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The Ottoman Empire and Early Modern Europe 

Despite the fact that its capital city and over one third of its territory 
were within the continent of Europe, the Ottoman Empire has consis- 
tently been regarded as a place apart, inextricably divided from the West 
by differences of culture and religion. A perception of its militarism, its 
barbarism, its tyranny, the sexual appetites of its rulers, and its perva- 
sive exoticism has led historians to measure the Ottoman world against 
a western standard and find it lacking. In recent decades, a dynamic 
and convincing scholarship has emerged that seeks to comprehend and, 
in the process, to de-exoticize this enduring realm. Daniel Goffman 
provides a thorough introduction to the history and institutions of the 
Ottoman Empire from this new standpoint, and presents a claim for its 
inclusion in Europe. His lucid and engaging book - an important addi- 
tion to New Approaches to European History - will be essential reading 
for undergraduates. 

Daniel Goffman is Professor of History at Ball State University. His 
publications include Izmir and the Levantine world, 1550-1650 (Seattle, 
WA, 1990), Britons in the Ottoman Empire, 1642-1660 (Seattle, WA, 
1998) and The Ottoman City between East and West: Aleppo, Izmir, and 
Istanbul, with Edhem Eldem and Bruce Masters (Cambridge, 1999). 
He is currently editor of the Middle East Studies Association Bulletin. 

New Approaches to European History 

Series editors 

William Beik Emory University 

T. C. W. Blanning Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge 

New Approaches to European History is an important textbook series, 
which provides concise but authoritative surveys of major themes and 
problems in European history since the Renaissance. Written at a 
level and length accessible to advanced school students and 
undergraduates, each book in the series addresses topics or themes 
that students of European history encounter daily: the series embraces 
both some of the more "traditional" subjects of study, and those 
cultural and social issues to which increasing numbers of school and 
college courses are devoted. A particular effort is made to consider the 
wider international implications of the subject under scrutiny. 

To aid the student reader scholarly apparatus and annotation is 
light, but each work has full supplementary bibliographies and notes 
for further reading: where appropriate chronologies, maps, diagrams 
and other illustrative material are also provided. 

For a list of titles published in the series, please see end of book. 

The Ottoman Empire 
and Early Modern Europe 

Daniel Goffman 

Ball State University 




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© Cambridge University Press 2004 

First published in printed format 2002 

ISBN 0-511-03945-X eBook(netLibrary) 
ISBN 0-521-45280-5 hardback 
ISBN 0-521-45908-7 paperback 

In Memoriam 
Donald F. Lach 


List of illustrations page ix 

List of maps xii 

Preface xiii 

Acknowledgments xvi 

Note on usage xix 

Chronological table of events xx 

The Ottoman House through 1687 xxiii 

1 Introduction. Ottomancentrism and the West 1 

Part 1. State and society in the Ottoman world 

Kubad's formative years 23 

2 Fabricating the Ottoman state 27 
Kubad in Istanbul 55 

3 A seasoned polity 59 
Kubad at the Sublime Porte 93 

4 Factionalism and insurrection 98 

Part 2. The Ottoman Empire in the Mediterranean 
and European worlds 

Kubad in Venice 131 

5 The Ottoman— Venetian association 137 
Kubad between worlds 165 

6 Commerce and diasporas 169 
Kubad ransomed 189 


List of Contents 

7 A changing station in Europe 192 

8 Conclusion. The Greater Western World 227 

Glossary 235 

Suggestions for further reading 240 

Index 252 


"Frontispiece," Jean-Jacques Boissard, Vitae et icones 
sultanorum turcica, Frankfurt, 1597-99. (Courtesy of 
the Library of Congress.) page 10 

"Muchemet," Boissard, Vitae et icones sultanorum 

turcico, p. 41. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress.) 14 

"Divan-tchavousch," Ignatius Mouradgea d'Ohsson, 

Tableau general de I'Empire othoman, divise en deux 

parties, dont I'une comprend la legislation mahometane; 

I'autre, I'histoire de I'Empire othoman, 1837, vol. Ill, 

2nd plate after p. 294. (Courtesy of the Library 

of Congress.) 25 

"Osman," Philipp Lonicer, Chronicorum Turcicorum, 

in quibus Turcorum origo, principes, imperatores, bella . . . 

et caetera hue pertinentia exponuntur . . . accessere, narratio 

de Baiazethis filiorum seditionibus, Turcicarum item 

rerum epitome . . .et lohannis Aventini liber, in quo ca, 

1578, vol. I (in one binding), p. 9. (Courtesy of the 

Library of Congress.) 32 

"Osman," Boissard, Vitae et Icones Sultanorum 
Turcico, p. 4. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress.) 35 

"Torlachi religioso Turco," Nicolas de Nicolay, 

Le navigationi et viaggi nella Turchia, 1577, p. 207. 

(Courtesy of the Library of Congress.) 43 

"Map of Dardanelles Straits and Gallipoli," Hans 

Jacob Breuning von Buchenbach, Orientalische 

Reyss dess Edlen . . . so er selb ander in der Turkey, 

Strasbourg, 1612, p. 42. (Courtesy of the Library 

of Congress.) 44 

List of illustrations 

8 "Murad I," Lonicer, Chronicorum Turcicorum, vol. I 

(in one binding), p. 1 1 . (Author's collection.) 48 

9 "Appartement," d'Ohsson, Tableau general de I'Empire 
othoman, vol. Ill, before p. 129. (Courtesy of the Library 

of Congress.) 62 

10 "Giannizzero Soldato," Cesare Vecellio, Habiti antichi 
et moderni di tutto il mondo = Vestitus antiquorum 
recentiorumque totius orbis, Venice, 1598, f. 386r. 

(Courtesy of the Library of Congress.) 66 

1 1 "Cadil Eschier," Vecellio, Habiti antichi, f. 380r. 

(Courtesy of the Library of Congress.) 71 

12 "Ein Spachi," Johann Helffrich, Kurtzer und warhafftiger 
Bericht, Leipzig, 1580. (Courtesy of the Library of 
Congress.) 78 

13 "Military Commander of Anatolia," Eberhard Werner 
Happel, Thesaurus exoticorum oder eine mit aussldndischen 
raritdn und geschichten wohlversehene schatz-kammer, 
1688, sec. 2, p. 16. (Courtesy of the Library of 

Congress.) 79 

14 "Sipahis and janissaries," Breuning, Orientalische Reyss 

dess Edlen, p. 157. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress.) 80 

1 5 "Armenians," Helffrich, Kurtzer und warhafftiger Bericht. 
(Courtesy of the Library of Congress.) 86 

1 6 "Gentiir femme Perotte Frangue," Nicolay, 

Le navigationi et viaggi nella Turchia. (Author's collection.) 88 

17 "Neubeth," d'Ohsson, Tableau general de I'Empire 
othoman, vol. II, after p. 16. (Courtesy of the Library of 
Congress.) 94 

18 "Siege of Belgrade," Lonicer, Chronicorum Turcicorum, 
vol. II (in one binding), p. 22. (Courtesy of the Library 

of Congress.) 100 

19 "Troupes Turques de 1540 a 1580." (Author's 

collection.) 104 

20 "Suleyman," Lonicer, Chronicorum Turcicorum, vol. I 
(in one binding), p. 34. (Courtesy of the Library of 
Congress.) 108 

List of illustrations xi 

2 1 "Ein Janitscher," Helffrich, Kurtzer und warhafftiger 

Bericht. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress.) 114 

22 "Murad IV," Happel, Thesaurus exoticorum, sec. 4, 
following p. 1 4. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress.) 118 

23 "Porte d'entree du serail," d'Ohsson, Tableau general de 
I'Empire othoman, vol. Ill, before p. 283. (Courtesy of 

the Library of Congress.) 122 

24 "Frontispiece," Michel Baudier, Inventaire de I'histoire 
generale du serrail, 3rd edn. Paris, 1631. (Courtesy of 

the Library of Congress.) 160 

25 "Cimetieres d'Eyub," d'Ohsson, Tableau general de 
I'Empire othoman, vol. I, after p. 248. (Courtesy of 

the Library of Congress.) 174 

26 "Femme d'estat grecque de la ville de Pera," 
Nicolay, Le navigationi et viaggi nella Turchia. 

(Author's collection.) 184 

27 "Celebration de la fete du Mewloud," d'Ohsson, 
Tableau general de I'Empire othoman, vol. I, after p. 256. 
(Courtesy of the Library of Congress.) 1 88 

28 "Turco di Grado in Casa," Vecellio, Habiti antichi, 

f. 381 V. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress.) 200 

29 "Map of Alexandria," Helffrich, Kurtzer und warhajftiger 
Bericht. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress.) 202 

30 "Diner d'un ministre Europeen," d'Ohsson, Tableau 
general de I'Empire othoman, vol. Ill, after p. 454. 

(Courtesy of the Library of Congress.) 223 


1 The Ottoman Empire as part of Europe. page 02 

2 Turkoman principalities, c. 1320. 36 

3 Istanbul. 53 

4 The Ottoman Empire under Siileyman the Magnificent 

with modern states. 84 

5 Ottoman Europe. 102 

6 Sixteenth-century empires. 140 

7 The Eastern Mediterranean and the Ottomans. 146 


The writing of Ottoman history has changed dramatically, for the better 
I believe, in the past few decades. In part, a widening access to Ottoman 
source materials in Istanbul, Ankara, Jerusalem, Cairo, and elsewhere has 
supplemented and in some cases supplanted the Ottoman chronicles and 
western European correspondences and observations that previously had 
constituted the documentary backbone of our knowledge of the empire. 
Increasing reliance upon the views of the Ottomans about themselves in 
place of often hostile outside observers has allowed us to better imagine 
an Ottoman world from the inside. In addition, a growing appreciation 
for non-European societies and civilizations and the generation of new 
historical and literary analytical techniques have helped us take advantage 
of this plethora of documentation, while enlivening and making more 
sophisticated the historiography of the early modern Ottoman world. 

One goal of The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe is to help move 
some of these innovative and stimulating approaches toward Ottoman 
history out of monographic and article form and make them accessible 
to a general and student audience. The result may seem a hybrid be- 
tween the new and the old, for developments within the field have been 
uneven, many gaps remain in our knowledge, and some of our interpreta- 
tions still are speculative or rest on publications and approaches that are 
terribly outdated. For example, whereas recent studies provide thought- 
provoking insight into elite Ottoman households, our knowledge of gen- 
der relations outside of the privileged order remains thin. Similarly, we 
know much more about urban societies and economies in the Ottoman 
world than we do about their rural counterparts. This volume cannot help 
but refiect such strengths and weaknesses within the field of Ottoman 
studies. Indeed, I hope that a sense of these irregularities will help stim- 
ulate readers to explore our many empty historical spaces. 

Perhaps unavoidably, this work also echoes its author's own attrac- 
tion to certain aspects of Ottoman history, such as the rich and multi- 
layered world of the early modern eastern Mediterranean or the similar- 
ities and differences between western European and Ottoman treatment 

xiv Preface 

of religious minorities. Consequently, in the following pages the reader 
will find more on the Venetians than on the Austrians or Hungarians, 
and more on social organization than on diplomacy. Threaded through 
these topics and emphases, however, is a core belief that the early modern 
Ottoman Empire constituted an integral component of Europe, and that 
neither the Ottoman polity nor Europe makes a lot of sense without the 

The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe adopts a two-pronged ap- 
proach toward investigating the dealings between the Ottoman Empire 
and the rest of Europe. The body of the text is broadly chronological, ex- 
amining Ottoman political, religious, societal, diplomatic, and economic 
concerns, particularly in that empire's dealings with the balance of the 
European landmass. Since a principal intent is to look at Europe from 
the Ottoman perspective - an approach which demands some knowledge 
of the Ottoman world - Part One of the text gives considerable weight 
to Ottoman organizations and peoples. Part Two of the narrative then 
focuses on how such institutions and the personalities they produced 
co-existed with and influenced the Mediterranean and European worlds. 
Within this structure the book offers examinations of particular topics - 
such as the construction of an Ottoman imagined past, the Ottoman- 
Venetian conflicts, and the development and composition of commerce, 
diplomacy, the sultanate, the janissary corps, and other Ottoman pursuits 
and institutions. By this means the text undertakes to integrate much of 
the fresh and enterprising historiography of recent years into a broad 
examination of Ottoman events and issues. 

Prefacing each chapter of this master narrative is one in a series of 
"vignettes" that venture to address a troubling quandary in Ottoman 
historiography. Although pre-modern Ottoman studies is blessed with a 
profusion of chronicles and administrative sources, it seems to me that 
a paucity of diaries, memoirs, letters, and similar writings has served 
to dampen scholarship in this potentially tantalizing discipline. In other 
words, despite the celebrated poetry of devotion that so displays the char- 
acters of Siileyman and his wife Hiirrem, Evliya ^elebi's revealing com- 
ments abouthis patron Melek Ahmed Pasha and his wives, and a few other 
scattered revelatory tidbits,' there is an acute shortage of personality - 
which after all constitutes the sinew of historical narrative — in our sources 
on the early modern Ottoman world. 

' See, on Siileyman and Hiirrem, Leslie P. Peirce, The imperial harem: Women and sovereignty 
in the Ottoman empire (Oxford, 1993); and, on Melek Ahmed Pasha, Evliya (^elebi. The 
intimate life of an Ottoman statesman: Melek Ahmed Pasha (1588— 1661) ^ intro. and trans. 
Robert Dankoff, historical commentary Rhoads Murphey (Albany, 1991). 

Preface xv 

These vignettes aim to follow the lead of historians and writers in other 
fields^ to flesh out and personalize the historical record. My intent is not 
to concoct fables, but to conjecture on the basis of available information 
how a particular individual in a certain situation might have behaved, in 
order to recreate as realistically as possible the movements, associations, 
and dispositions of a person who was physically and culturally embedded 
in Ottoman civilization. Relatively extensive notes help mark the line 
where documented knowledge ends and supposition begins. It is hoped 
that the reader will gain from this method a richer and more empathetic 
understanding of an Ottoman world that many Westerners, inaccurately 
I believe, consider alien, profane, unknowable, and inconsequential. In 
turn, one purpose of the master narrative is to describe and explain the 
world in which Kubad ^avu|, the subject of the pseudo-biographical 
vignettes, lived. 


I have in mind such works as JVIaxime Hong Kingston, The woman warrior (New York, 
1976); JonathanD. Spence, The death of woman 1%h^ (New York, 1978); Robert Darnton, 
The Great Cat Massacre and other episodes in French cultural history (New York, 1984); Simon 
Schama, Dead certainties (unwarranted speculations) (New York, 1 992); and Amitav Ghosh, 
In an antique land: history in the guise of a traveler's tale (New York, 1992). The idea for 
the vignettes offered here also owes much to Selim Deringil, The well protected domains: 
ideology and the legitimation of power in the Ottoman Umpire^ 1876—1909 (London, 1998); 
and Edhem Eldem, "Istanbul: from imperial to peripheral capital," in The Ottoman city 
between East and West: Aleppo, Izmir, and Istanbul ed. Edhem Eldem, Daniel Goffman, 
and Bruce JVlasters (Cambridge, 1999), pp. 135-207. 


Several years ago, Richard Fisher of Cambridge University Press came 
to me with the suggestion that the Press would like to include a book 
on the Ottoman Empire in their series New Approaches to European 
History. This volume is one result of that proposal, and I thank him and 
Cambridge University Press for wishing to include the Ottoman world 
in this series. I also am grateful to my editors, Vicky Cuthill, Elizabeth 
Howard, and Sophie Read, for their diligence and patience with a project 
that took several detours and arrived at their offices rather late, and to 
my copy-editor, Leigh Mueller. 

As with every such undertaking, this book owes a great deal to many 
people. Its first draft was sketched out during a rich and exciting year 
at Bogazifi University in 1993-94. I thank the members of the depart- 
ment of history at that institution - particularly Selim Deringil, Edhem 
Eldem, Sel^uk Esenbel, and Aptullah Kuran - for hosting me and serv- 
ing as tireless sounding boards. I also thank my own institution. Ball 
State University, for providing me with time to write this volume, and my 
Department of History for its support and enthusiasm. Our faculty sem- 
inar has become a model of its kind, a sharp and constructive intellectual 
scalpel, and twice my colleagues — Larry Birken, Jim Connolly, Michael 
Doyle, Rene Marion, Chris Thompson, and several others - have read, 
critiqued, and helped shape chapters from this work. I have also twice 
presented versions of the Kubad ^avu§ vignettes publicly, once in 1998 
at a conference in Istanbul organized by Suraiya Faroqhi and a second 
time at New York University at the kind invitation of Ariel Salzmann. 
Each occasion was stimulating and encouraging, and I thank both the 
organizers and participants for the opportunities to present and for the 
lively discussions that followed. 

The research and writing of this book relied upon a number of universi- 
ties, archives, libraries, and endowments. At Ball State University, Ronald 
Johnstone (the Dean of Sciences and Humanities), Warren Vander Hill 
(the Provost), Ray White and John Barber (the chairs of the Department 

Acknowledgments xvii 

of History), and the staff of the Office of Research have generously 
supported me with time off for research and writing as well as with various 
matching monies. The principal archives I have made use of in this 
project are the Ba§bakanlik Osmanli Ar§ivi in Istanbul and the Public 
Record Office in London. The staffs of both of these facilities are knowl- 
edgeable and exceptionally gracious. They have my profound thanks, 
as do the staffs of the Bodleian Library in Oxford, the British Library in 
London, the Library of Congress in Washington, and the Bracken Library 
in Muncie. The research and an early draft of this book were undertaken 
during a year in Istanbul. The National Endowment for the Humani- 
ties made that trip possible through its Fellowship for College Teachers 
and Independent Scholars, and I am deeply grateful to this endowment, 
which through the years has given so very much to the humanities. The 
Ball State Department of Geography is blessed with a wonderful cartog- 
rapher, Connie McOmber, who prepared the maps (as she has done for 
me twice before) with uncommon patience, diligence, and expertise. Lori 
A. Sammons patiently helped me proofread the final version of this book. 

The final drafts of this book benefited enormously from the scrutiny of 
several readers. First of all, Kevin Brooks, Mike Brown, Brett Calland, 
Brent Chapman, Eric Conderman, Chris Farr, Kirk Overstreet, and Julie 
Reitz, all students in my graduate course on the early modern eastern 
Mediterranean world, read, critiqued, and vastly improved it. In addition, 
Cambridge University Press itself provided three anonymous referees. 
Although I cannot thank them by name for their sometimes tough but 
always thoughtful comments, I am grateful nonetheless. I also asked three 
other colleagues to read the manuscript, which they did with care and 
energy. My deepest thanks, then, go to Ginny Aksan, Drew Cayton, and 
Carolyn Goffman. Without their critical input, this volume would have 
been much less than it is; without their keen and prudent support, it 
could not have been written at all. I used to thank my daughter and 
son for distracting me and reminding me about real values. More and 
more, however, I find myself marveling at and drawing upon their quick 
and critical minds. I thank Sam and Laura especially for providing this 
service, and pledge: the next one is for you! 

The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe is dedicated to the 
memory of Donald F. Lach, who died just months before its completion. 
For three years I worked as Donald's graduate assistant at the University 
of Chicago. His devotion to his scholarship was unrivaled, and his faith 
in my efforts more than anything else kept me going while a student at 
that university. Donald's vision of world history has been much in my 
thoughts the past few months as I have worked through the last stages 

xviii Acknowledgments 

of this manuscript, which is deeply inspired by his example and his mon- 
umental Asia in the making of Europe. I end these acknowledgments with 
a paraphrase from Donald Lach's own writings: the mistakes that exist in 
this book are my responsibility alone, and I only hope that they are funny 
and not fundamental. 

Note on usage 

There are many transliteration schemes for Arabic-script terms. In this 
text, I have kept such words to the minimum. Nevertheless, in those cases 
when they have seemed unavoidable, I have adopted modern Turkish 
orthography (except for words that have found their way into the English 
language, such as kadi or pasha). Several simple rules will allow the reader 
to pronounce these words with some accuracy: 

c sounds like the English j 

g sounds like the English ch 

g is silent but lengthens any preceding vowel 

1 sounds like the a in serial 

j sounds like the French j 

o sounds like the French eu in peu 

/ sounds like the English sh 

u sounds like the French u in lune 

Vocalization that stresses no syllable generally is the most faithful. 
Ottoman terms are contextually defined in the glossary and can be found 
with their Ottoman Turkish spellings in The new Redhouse Turkish-English 
dictionary ('al., 1968). 

Chronological table of events 

1071 Battle of Manzikert; Seljuk Turks established in Asia 

1204 Fourth Crusaders capture Constantinople 

c. 1300 Foundation of the Ottoman Empire 

c. 1301 Osman defeats Byzantine force at Baphaeon 

c. 1324 Death of Osman; succession of Orhan 

c. 1326 Ottoman conquest of Bursa 

c. 1345 Ottomans appropriate the emirate of Karasi 

c. 1346 Orhan marries Theodora, daughter of John VI 

c. 1352 Ottomans cross over into Europe by taking Tzympe 

c. 1354 Ottomans take Gallipoli 

1361 Conquest of Adrianople (Edirne) 

1362 Death of Orhan; succession of Murad I 

1389 First Battle of Kosovo; death of Murad I; succession 

of Bayezid I 
1402 Defeat and death of Bayezid I at hands of Tamerlane 

1402—13 Ottoman Interregnum 
1413 Mehmed I proclaimed sultan 

1420 Murad II accedes to the throne 

1423-30 Ottoman-Venetian War 
1444 Murad II abdicates in favor of his son Mehmed; Battle 

of Varna 
1446 Murad IPs second accession to the throne 

1451 Mehmed II's second accession to the throne 

1453 Ottoman conquest of Constantinople 

1463-79 Ottoman-Venetian War 
1470 Ottoman conquest of the island of Negroponte 

1480 Ottoman landing at Otranto in Italy 

1481 Death of Mehmed II and accession of Bayezid II 
1498 Vasco da Gama brings Portuguese ships into 

the Indian Ocean 

Chronological table of events 

1499-1502 Ottoman-Venetian War 

1512 Abdication of Bayezid II and accession of Selim I 

1514 Battle of ^aldiran 

1516-17 Ottoman conquest of Syria, Egypt, and the Hijaz 

1517 Protestant Reformation 

1 520 Death of Selim I and accession of Siileyman I 

1521 Ottoman conquest of Belgrade 

1522 Ottoman conquest of Rhodes 
1526 Battle of Mohacs 

1 528 Luther publishes his "On War Against the Turk" 

1529 Ottomans capture Budaj first Ottoman siege 
of Vienna 

1533 Hayreddin Barbarossa becomes Ottoman grand 

1534 Ottoman conquest of Tabriz and Baghdad 

1535 Grand vizier Ibrahim Pasha executed 
1537-39 Ottoman-Venetian War 

1538 Naval battle at Preveza 

1541 Ottomans annex Hungary 

1543 Franco-Ottoman fleet take control of Nice 

1551-52 Ottomans take control of Transylvania 

1552 Prince Mustafa executed 

1565 Ottoman siege of Malta 

1566 Death of Siileyman and accession of Selim II 

1569 French capitulations 
1570-73 Ottoman-Venetian War 

1570 Ottoman attack upon Cyprus 

1571 Ottoman conquest of Cyprus and defeat in the 
naval battle of Lepanto 

1574 Death of Selim II and accession of Murad III 

1578-90 War with Persia 

1580 English capitulations 

1595 Death of Murad III and accession of Mehmed III 

1603 Death of Mehmed III and accession of Ahmed I 

1 603-1 8 War with Persia 

1606 Peace Treaty of Zsitva-Torok 

1612 Dutch capitulations 

1617 Death of Ahmed I and first accession of Mustafa I 

1618 Deposition of Mustafa I and accession of Osman II 

1622 Assassination of Osman II and second accession of 
Mustafa I 

1623 Death of Mustafa I and accession of Murad IV 

xxii Chronological table of events 

1 624-39 War with Persia; Persians take Baghdad 

1 634 Ottomans retake Baghdad 

1640 Death of Murad IV and accession of Ibrahim 

1645-69 Ottoman— Venetian war over Crete 

1648 Assassination of Ibrahim and accession of Mehmed IV 

1656 Kopriilii Mehmed Pasha appointed grand vizier 

The Ottoman House through 1687 
(dates are regnant) 

Osman (c. 1299-1324) 

Orhan(c. 1324-62) 

Murad I (1362-89) 

Bayezid I (1389-1402) 

Ottoman Civil War (1402-13) 

Mehmed I (1413-20) 

Murad II (1420-44, 1446-51) 

Mehmed II (1444-46, 1451-81) 

Bayezid II (1481-1512) 

SelimI (1512-20) 

Siileyman I (1520-66) 

Selim II (1566-74) 

Murad III (1574-95) 

Mehmed III (1595-1603) 

Ahmed I (1603-17) Mustafa I (1617-18, 1622-23) 

Osman II (1618-22) Murad IV (1623-40) Ibrahim (1640-48) 

Mehmed rV (1648-87) 

Introduction: Ottomancentrism 
and the West 

One chapter in a recent history of the Ottomans begins with the assertion 
that "the Ottoman Empire lived for war."^ This statement constitutes a 
concise precis of a damaging and misleading stereotype, long pervasive 
in both Europe and the United States. Pursuing this thesis of an acute 
Ottoman militancy, the author explains that "every governor in this em- 
pire was a general; every policeman was a janissary; every mountain pass 
had its guards, and every road a military destination." Not only were 
officials also soldiers, this account declares, but "even madmen had a 
regiment, the deli, or loons, Riskers of their Souls, who were used, since 
they did not object, as human battering rams, or human bridges." Indeed, 
according to this same writer, it was "outbreaks of peace [that] caused 
trouble at home, as men clamoured for the profit and the glory." Al- 
though these and similar observations strictly speaking may not be wholly 
false, they certainly are partial {deli in modern Turkish indeed suggests 
"loony" or "deranged"; in Ottoman Turkish, however, a more accurate 
translation would be "brave" or even "heroic"), dangerously credible, 
and confirm long-lived Western assumptions that the Ottoman state was 
thoroughly and relentlessly martial. Even more misleadingly, they im- 
ply that such militarism was somehow peculiarly foreign and contrary to 
Western norms. 

The truth is that such portrayals not only privilege a single aspect of a 
rich and varied world, but also could describe virtually any state in early 
modern Europe. Did the early modern Habsburg state, the French state. 

Jason Goodwin, Lords of the horizons: a history of the Ottoman Empire (London, 1? 
p. 65. In general, though, this is among the most readable and sympathetic of such 
texts. Indeed, at times it reads like an apologetic, a tone that makes Goodwin's stress 
on Ottoman militarism all the more salient. The notion stands at the very core of other 
books. In his The Ottoman impact on Europe (New York, 1968), p. 77, for example, Paul 
Coles writes: "From the point of their first entrance into history as a nomadic war-band, 
the Ottomans were carried from one triumph to the next by a ruthless dedication to 
conquest and predation. . . . The perpetual search, in Gibbon's phrase, for 'new enemies 
and new subjects' was not a policy, weighed against alternatives; it was a law of life, the 
principle that animated what had now become a large and complex society." 


The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 


Map 1 


Ottomain Empire 
High mounulni 
Moderate raountainj 

4 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

or the English state somehow not live for war? Were the sheriffs of England 
not also both policemen and soldiers? Were Peter the Hermit, who led a 
group of peasants against seasoned delis, others who led Christian children 
on suicidal crusades, and numerous Christian extremists not just as fa- 
natically committed to their faith as were frenzied Ottoman soldiers? 
Bayezid I may or may not have proclaimed "For this was I born, to bear 
arms," as the same recent text avows. ^ Is it any less likely, however, that 
Bayezid's contemporaries in late feudal Europe would have uttered the 
same words? Many of the protagonists in William Shakespeare's history 
plays espouse soldierly virtues. Some, such as Coriolanus (even though 
his proud spirit in the end defeated him), certainly seemed born for war, 
and others, such as Henry V, seemed to become "kingly" only through 
the vehicle of war. Voltaire, perhaps cynically but certainly baldly, states 
that "the first who was king was a successful soldier. He who serves well 
his country has no need of ancestors," a sentiment that Sir Walter Scott 
seconds: "What can they see in the longest kingly line in Europe, save 
that it runs back to a successful soldier?"^ Should we then believe that the 
Habsburg Charles V or the French Francis I were less bellicose than their 
Ottoman contemporary Siileyman (the Magnificent and Lawgiver)? The 
Ottoman state and society certainly was distinctive (what polity is not?). 
It was not, however, exceptional in its militarism, in its brutality, or, as 
others have claimed, in its misogyny or its sexual appetites, and it simply 
buys into Christian and Western legends to proclaim that such charac- 
teristics were somehow distinctly Ottoman.^ 

The existence of such Eurocentric mythologizing in scholarship is 
almost axiomatic.^ Particularly in the last four centuries - the con- 
ventionally labeled ages of European exploration, European expansion, 
European imperialism, and European retreat - especially western Europe 
has imagined itself politically, philosophically, and geographically at the 

Goodwin, Lords of the Horizons^ p. 66. 

Fran9ois Marie Arouet de Voltaire, Merope, a tragedy, by Aaron Hill, adapted for the- 
atrical representation (London, 1795), Act I, sc. 3; and Sir Walter Scott, Woodstock 
(New York, 2001), Ch. 28. 

The idea of an innate Ottoman military prowess persists to the present day, in the United 
States as well as Europe. On which see John M. VanderLippe, "The 'Terrible Turk': the 
formulation and perpetuation of a stereotype in American foreign policy," New Perspec- 
tives on Turkey 17(1997): 39-57. 

On which see Thierry Hentsch, Imagining the Middle East, trans. Fred A. Reed (Montreal, 
1992), pp. 1-48 and passim. The very idea of Eurocentrism also may be anachronistic 
for the early modern era, since Europe is a cultural and secular rather than a geographic 
notion and neither Christian nor Muslim imagined a "European" culture before the 
eighteenth century (see M. E. Yapp, "Europe in the Turkish mirror," Past and Present 
137[1992]: 134-55). There is, of course, a strong tendency to associate Europe with 

Introduction 5 

center of the world. Europeans and neo-Europeans in America and else- 
where have routinely judged art, literature, religion, statecraft, and tech- 
nology according to their own authorities and criteria.^ It remains to 
this day a common conviction that few have measured up to these stan- 
dards - certainly not the Ottomans with their menacing and seemingly 
"demonic religion" and "savage nomadic ways." The academy no less 
than governments and the press has reflected this condescension, a coali- 
tion of points of view that has led to an almost irresistible temptation 
to view the globe "downward" from Paris and London or more recently 
Washington and New York. In this schema the Ottoman Empire joins the 
ranks of the "others" - exotic, inexplicable, unchanging, and acted upon 
by the powers of ruling authorities in Europe. 

Such an attitude has been aptly designated as "orientalist" and has pre- 
disposed some historians to consider not only the Ottoman Empire but 
also other societies and ideas deemed "non-western" as peripheral to the 
concert of European states and their cultural satellites. In the Ottoman 
case as in others, scholars have tended to emphasize those aspects of soci- 
ety that are distinct from Europe. They have stressed that the Ottomans' 
ethnicity, language, religion, and even organizational aptitude differed 
from the European standard. All too often, implicit in this fixation on 
divergence is an assumption of inferiority, of uncivilized savagery (such 
as the conventional if hackneyed argument that plunder was the exclu- 
sive stimulus for Ottoman empire-building). As Said has pointed out: 
"Not for nothing did Islam come to symbolize terror, devastation, the 
demonic, hordes of hated barbarians. For Europe, Islam was a lasting 
trauma." He perhaps too categorically specifies that "until the end of the 
seventeenth century the 'Ottoman peril' lurked alongside Europe to rep- 
resent for the whole of Christian civilization a constant danger, and in 
time European civilization incorporated that period and its lore, its great 
events, figures, virtues, and vices, as something woven into the fabric of 
life." This author further argues that "like Walter Scott's Saracens, the 
European representation of the Muslim, Ottoman, or Arab was always 
a way of controlling the redoubtable Orient, and to a certain extent the 
same is true of the methods of contemporary learned Orientalists."^ 

Certainly, as Said contends, many within European society grew to 
dread the Ottoman giant to its east. Nevertheless, this attitude was not 
fixedj nor did it ever become nearly as hegemonic as he suggests.^ Not 

'' The British treatment of India is a celebrated case, on which see Jyotsna G. Singh, 

Colonial narratives, cultural dialogues: "discoveries" of India in the languages of colonialism 

(London and New York, 1996). 
^ Edward Said, Orientalism (New York, 1978), pp. 59—60. 
^ On which see Hentsch, Imagining the Middle East. 

6 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

only must one generally differentiate the attitudes of northern from 
Mediterranean Europe, but those western Europeans who experienced 
the Ottoman Empire first-hand often regarded it with respect, albeit 
with some apprehension. Furthermore, political philosophers who read 
these travelers' thoughtful texts, such as Guillaume Postel and Jean 
Bodin, helped nourish an esteem for many Ottoman institutions through 
their own writings. Nevertheless, the proclivity of historians to envisage 
the Empire as ignoble and antithetical to "refined" Western standards 
undoubtedly has obscured the nuances of Ottoman civilization as well 
as the many common elements between it and the rest of Europe. 

Europe viewed from afar 

We are not compelled to view the world from such a western-European 
perspective. The physical world has neither apex nor nadir, and it makes 
just as much geographic sense, to take an equally arbitrary case, to study 
the Far West (western Europe) from the viewpoint of the Near West 
(the Ottoman Empire) as it does to foreground the successor states of 
Christendom. If we imagine Istanbul rather than Paris at the middle of 
the world, Ottoman relations with the rest of Europe assume a startling 

Historians customarily describe the Turkoman incursions into Anatolia 
and the Balkans as barbarian plunderingsj however, one can just as easily 
imagine them as the foundation for a new and liberating empire. The 
fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans is typically portrayed as a catas- 
trophe for western civilization; however, one might as readily see in the 
change of regime the rebirth of a splendid city long severed from its 
life-giving hinterlands.^ The Ottoman conquest of the Balkans is often 
imagined as a suspension of that region's history, the immobilization of 
a society imprisoned for several centuries in the "yoke" of an exoge- 
nous and ungodly conqueror. With a change of perspective, however, 
one might regard the societal commingling and cultural blending that 
accompanied the infusion of Ottoman civilization into Europe as an ex- 
plosion of vigor and creativity. The Ottoman Empire conventionally has 
been seen as a persecutor of Christians, but one might judge it instead a 


The very nomenclature for this city is muddied by rival claims to it (most powerfully, 
Greek versus Turkish) . We will here refer to Ottoman Constantinople (also sometimes 
called "Byzantium") as Istanbul, even though the Ottomans themselves seem to have 
continued to use the term "Constantinople," but in a rather specific meaning. They 
usually referred by it to the old city together with all its suburbs (Eyiib, Galata, and 
Uskiidar), and used "Istanbul" more in reference to the city within the Byzantine walls 
(on which see Daniel Goffman, Britons in the Ottoman Empire, 1642-1660 [Seattle, WA, 
1998], pp. 33-35). For the sake of simplicity, this book will call the city "Constantinople" 
when discussing its Byzantine period and "Istanbul" when discussing its Ottoman one. 

Introduction 7 

haven for runaways from a fiercely intolerant Christian Europe. After all, 
whereas in the Ottoman world there were thousands of renegades from 
Christendom, one almost never discovers in Christian Europe converts 
from Islam. ^^ 

Such an Ottomancentric perspective would reveal a relationship in 
which the ideological walls that seemed to divide Christian Europe from 
the Ottoman Empire instead become the framework to a rich and in- 
tricate representation. This is not to deny that a chasm existed at the 
ideological level; at least at the societal level, there never has been an 
enduring rapprochement between the Christian and Islamic worldviews. 
Nevertheless, a host of common interests always counterbalanced this 
doctrinal abyss. 

The great spiritual divide 

The historiography of Ottoman relations with the rest of Europe typically 
features religion. This focus makes sense given the historical conscious- 
nesses of the two civilizations. On the one hand the Ottoman rulers re- 
cast their state from a nomadic and frontier principality into the primary 
heir to a religious foundation that had raised its edifice on previously 
Byzantine and Latin territories. This ability to remake its ideology by 
drawing upon Islam's Arab and expansionist heritage helped to give the 
Ottoman Empire its celebrated resilience, fiexibility, and longevity. In 
contrast, those states with which the Ottomans shared the early modern 
Mediterranean world — whether Byzantine, Latin, or Habsburg - used 
religious ideology to legitimize their own regimes and to mobilize their 
populations in their struggles against Islam. 

It thus makes good sense to highlight religion as a fundamental building 
block of civilizations that predated the Ottoman, Venetian, and Habsburg 
hegemonies. After all, early modern Europe emerged from a Christian 
ecumene that had helped define and grant legitimacy to a medieval 
Europe that presided over several crusades against Islam. Although the 
transformations of the Renaissance and the Reformation shook that 
world to its core. Christian Europe - particularly in its relations with 
non-Christian societies - continued to cast its existence in terms of a 
"universal" faith. The most visible manifestation of this obsession was the 
late Crusades, which continued to sputter well into the fifteenth century 
("holy" alliances endured even longer) and whose nemesis and antici- 
pated final victim was meant to be the Ottoman polity. 

'" On this topic, see Peter Lamborn Wilson's intriguing Pirate Utopias: Moorish corsairs and 
European renegadoes (Brooklyn, NY, 1995); and, for the specific example of England, 
Nabil Matar, Turks, Moors, and Englishmen in the Age of Discovery (New York, 1999). 

8 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

The Ottoman Empire, meanwhile, surfaced as an amalgam of many 
cultures and traditions. Its legitimacy, however, also was rooted in a 
"universal" belief- the faith of Islam, which normatively at least came to 
condemn change (bida') itself. Because the sultans conceived of them- 
selves and their society as Muslim and of their state as Islamic, each 
monarch had to comply, or appear to comply, with the laws of his faith 
(the Shariah). Every innovation demanded a justification in terms of the 
doctrines of Islam. The strictures of the religion manifested themselves 
in myriad ways, guided the maturation of Ottoman society, and limited 
the direction of Ottoman expansion. 

The early Ottomans for example may have considered themselves 
"gazi" warriors, who justified bloodshed through faith.'' Such a self- 
image would have demanded an unrelenting onslaught against the infidel 
and at the same time made it awkward to attack even the most trou- 
blesome rival Islamic state unless the government could demonstrate 
clear and unambiguous cause. The actuality seems to differ from this re- 
construction. While the gazi credo would have justified Ottoman strikes 
against Byzantine borderlands, the Ottoman conquests also produced a 
subject people who were more and more non-Muslim. The new state had 
to learn and practice tolerance in order to survive. It recast the Shariah 
as it did so. 

The spiritual bases of Christian Europe and the Muslim Ottoman 
Empire were remarkably similar. Unlike other major religions such as 
Hinduism or Taoism, Islam and Christianity are rooted in essentially the 
same Near Eastern and unitary doctrine. It is thus not only reasonable - 
but quite fruitful - to conceive and study a "Greater Western World" 
which encompassed the followers of both Jesus and Muhammed. This 
similarity, however, does not connote harmony. Just as siblings often fight 
with appalling brutality, the very resemblance and historical proximity of 
the two faiths created a bitter rivalry. This hostility is depicted forcefully 
in Christian and Muslim representations of the biblical tale of Isaac and 
Ismael. In the Judeo-Christian version, God asks Abraham to sacrifice 
Isaac, his son by his wife Sarah, in order to prove his faith. In the Islamic 
version, however, it becomes Ismael, Abraham's elder son by his maid- 
servant Hagar, who is to be sacrificed. In other words, for Christians, the 
younger brother is the pivotal character in this story, but for Muslims the 
elder brother is the key figure.'^ It is not that Muslims repudiate the tradi- 
tion that Isaac became the patriarch for the Hebrew people. The Qur'an 

' ' This image is under attack, however, to the degree that a new synthesis may be emerging 

that largely repudiates it. See Chapter 2 below. 
'^ See Carol L. Delaney, Abraham on trial (Princeton, 1998). 

Introduction 9 

does insist, however, that Ismael serves a similar, and consequently his- 
torically central, role for the Arab people. Two branches of the same tree, 
the religions constituted aggressive monotheisms, and they fiercely re- 
pudiated, persecuted, and negated rival creeds, most particularly each 
other. It is through this prism of sanguine arrogance that scholarship has 
routinely viewed, portrayed, and artificially divided the Ottoman from 
the rest of the European world. 

The Euro-Ottoman symbiosis 

In some ways, then, Ottoman and other European communities were hos- 
tile to each other. This temperament is explicitly and vividly displayed in 
the battles of Kosovo and Varna, the investment of Constantinople, the 
assault against Malta, the sieges of Vienna, and countless other aggres- 
sions. In other ways, however, the two civilizations were more symbi- 
otic, seeming almost to converge in some arenas. Such intersections of 
character and purpose have been too little studied. They are most visi- 
ble, perhaps, in the economic sphere, in which trade within the Mediter- 
ranean basin served to bind the two worlds, operating not only through the 
"spices" that Europeans coveted and long could gain only from Ottoman 
cities, but also, and especially after the sixteenth century, through bulkier 
commodities such as dried fruits, cottons, and grains. 

Although western Europeans were the more eager to sustain and de- 
velop commercial relations because the Islamic world distributed the 
desired goods of Asia, it was the Ottoman rendering of the role of the 
non-Muslims in an Islamic society that fashioned the link. Late medieval 
European Christians often managed relations with the "other," partic- 
ularly the Jew and the Muslim, by vigorous persecution and expulsion. 
The Ottomans handled their "others" less violently by asserting a theo- 
retical Muslim superiority — signified by a head-tax upon non-Muslims 
and certain often symbolic sumptuary restrictions — and simultaneously 
practicing a nearly absolute but effective disregard in which the various 
religions, ethnicities, and aliens within the empire co-existed and com- 
mingled virtually at will. 

Paradoxically this cultural convergence, in which the Ottomans inte- 
grated non-Muslims into the economic life of the community, is best arti- 
culated along the political and commercial frontiers, where Ottoman 
warriors simultaneously engaged in endemic conflict with Byzantine, 
Hungarian, Venetian, and Habsburg forces and fraternized with fellow 
Christian inhabitants. Particularly upon the military marches that for 
centuries demarcated first Byzantine and Ottoman Anatolia and then 
the Catholic and Ottoman Balkans, each side accommodated and even 


The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

1 This frontispiece juxtaposes the Habsburg emperor with the 
Ottoman sultan. Unlike many such depictions, there is no suggestion 
here of nobility versus malevolence. Both monarchs look regal and carry 
emblems of office; the materiel of war illustrated in the upper corners - 
battle axe, drum, and pistol for the emperor's armies and scimitar, bow 
and arrow, and pistol for the sultan's - are both neutrally rendered. 
Boissard, Vitae et icones sultanorum turcica. 

assimilated the other's techniques and cultures.'^ Societies promptly ac- 
commodated whichever state ruled over them, warriors crept back and 
forth across a divide that proved remarkably porous, and, surprisingly, 

'^ Cemal Kafadar has cogently argued such a symbiosis in Between two worlds: the construction 
of the Ottoman state (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1995), especially pp. 19-28. See also 

Introduction 1 1 

that great segregator religion itself slipped into a latitudinarianism that 
facilitated borderland communication and even sometimes blurred the 
distinction between Christianity and Islam. 

The Ottoman Empire itself originated as such a society. It was born in 
the fourteenth-century middle grounds between the Byzantine and Seljuk 
Empires where it was one of a throng of petty and semi-autonomous 
Turkoman emirates crowded into western Anatolia. Here, its leaders 
vied with the emirs of Karasi, Mente§eoglu, Aydinoglu, Saruhanoglu, 
and others for lucre and fame, struggled against the Byzantine Empire and 
various Latin states to enlarge their frontiers, and almost indiscriminately 
snatched from the venerable domains that enveloped them the most useful 
doctrines, weapons, and political formations. More than any other qual- 
ity, the responsive plasticity that emerged in this milieu explains the aston- 
ishing achievements of Osman, the eponymous Ottoman, and his heirs. 

Associations between the Ottoman Empire and the other states of 
Europe extended beyond commercial exchange and military campaign. 
The territories, indeed the very institutions, of the Ottoman Empire were 
in some ways successors to the Byzantine Empire, which, as an heir to 
Rome, was the most revered of European states. Not only did both the 
Byzantine and Ottoman political entities utilize a religious ideology as the 
glue for a vast territory and a diverse population, but also the Ottomans 
came to rule over virtually the same domains and peoples as had Con- 
stantine's eastern Roman heirs 1,000 years before. Furthermore, the suc- 
cessor state adopted much of the Byzantine tax structure through the 
utilization of customary law, which the Ottomans blended into sultanic 
law as a complement to Islamic law.^^ 

This is not to say that the Ottoman polity constituted no more than a 
superimposed image of its immediate predecessor. It did not. Not only 
did the empire rely upon traditions from its own central-Asian past, but 
it also embraced Persian (particularly financial and political) and Arab 
(particularly spiritual) legacies. ^^ The Ottomans fused these heritages 

Ahmet T. Karamustafa, God's unruly friends: dervish groups in the Islamic later Middle 
Period, 1200-1550 (Salt Lake City, 1994). 

^* Halil Inalcik, "Suleiman the lawgiver and Ottoman law," /^rc/j/fwrn Ottomanicum 1(1969): 
105-38, and chapter 3 below. 

'^ On the controversy over the roots of Ottoman law, see Halil Inalcik, "The Ottoman 
succession and its relation to the Turkish concept of sovereignty," in The Middle East 
and the Balkans ujider the Ottoman Empire: essays on economy and society (Bloomington, 
IN, 1993), pp. 37-69. The question of Ottoman origins and legacy has been thoroughly 
politicized. On origins, see Herbert A. Gibbons, The foundation of the Ottoman Empire 
(Oxford, 1916); Fuat M. Kopriilii, The origins of the Ottoman Empire, trans, anded. Gary 
Leiser (Albany, NY, 1992); Paul Wittek, The rise of the Ottoman Empire (London, 1938); 
Rudi P. Lindner, Nomads and Ottomans in medieval Anatolia (Bloomington, IN, 1983); 
and Kafadar, Between two worlds; on legacy, see L. Carl Brown (ed.). Imperial legacy: the 
Ottoman imprint on the Balkans and the Middle East (New York, 1996). 

12 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

together with the Byzantine one into a unique order that endured for 
half a millennium. The threads of Ottoman legitimacy thus converged 
from the east, from the south, and from the north. Nevertheless the chief 
impression, at least from the perspective of much of Europe, was that 
the Ottoman Empire was the Byzantine Empire reborn, even though this 
rebirth may have appeared misshapen. When viewed from the West the 
Ottoman polity seemed to have arisen like a monster out of the Byzan- 
tine ashes. Evil or not, as the successor to a major Christian and Mediter- 
ranean civilization, both European and Ottoman considered the new state 
very much a part of the European world. Although many western Euro- 
peans hated it on ideological grounds, most also acknowledged that the 
empire could not be ignored, and some even grasped that it could not 
easily be expunged. Ways were found to accommodate it. 

Istanbul: the middle city 

Constantinople (Ottoman Istanbul) epitomized this physical and emo- 
tional integration into Europe. With the temporary exceptions of Iberia 
under Islam and the Syrian coast under the crusader states, an oceanic 
barrier had long separated the Christian and Islamic worlds. This obsta- 
cle swept in a roughly diagonal arc across the Mediterranean Sea from 
the Straits of Gibraltar to the Straits of the Dardanelles. Since the time 
of Muhammed the northeastern foundation of this buttress had been the 
capital of the Byzantine Empire. Constantinople was Europe's "line in 
the sand." Boundaries between Christendom and Islam may have ebbed 
and flowed elsewhere (and chiefly in Iberia); here they remained fixed. 
With the conquest of that city in 1453 and the fall of Granada, the last 
Islamic state in Iberia, to the combined forces of Ferdinand and Isabella 
thirty-nine years later, the emotional nucleus of this cultural clash shifted 
from the southwestern to the southeastern European world.'* 

In European lore, Constantinople was the great successor to Rome. Its 
immense walls and access to both oversea and land-based hinterlands pre- 
served Christendom during times of extreme danger. In the fourth and 
seventh centuries it had withstood the onslaughts of pagan Goths and 
Muslim Arabs and, despite succumbing to a ruinous Latin onslaught in 
the early thirteenth century, in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries it 
had stood as a bastion against the Mongol and Turkoman nomadic groups 
pushing westward across eastern Europe and Asia Minor. Byzantine de- 
fenses to the south and east may have crumbled, the walls of Byzantium 

'' This, however, does not mean that fighting along the western borderlands ceased, on 
which see Andrew C. Hess, The forgotten frontier: a history of the sixteenth-century Ibero- 
African frontier (Chicago and London, 1978). 

Introduction 1 3 

may have tottered, but time and again the city had weathered the attacks 
of its assailants. However estranged the western Latin and eastern Ortho- 
dox churches may have grown, one cannot overemphasize the physical 
and symbolic relevance of Byzantium to all of Christendom. 

The city loomed almost as large in Islamic lore. Muhammed himself 
imagined it as the center of the world, and the Arab surges of the seventh 
and eighth centuries several times touched its walls. The first Umayyad 
Caliph Mu'awiyah in 670 led an assault that shattered against its walls; 
the yearlong siege of 716—17 proved no more successful. Thus the as- 
tonishing advance of Islam in its early years veered off toward India in 
the east and Iberia in the west. In the north, it faltered at Constantino- 
ple. That barricade held, the eastern Christian church survived, and two 
great monotheisms there faced each other - sometimes in hostility and 
sometimes in uneasy peace - for almost a millennium. 

Constantinople was not only a religious symbol, however. Constantine 
had founded his capital on a finger of land that functioned almost as an 
isthmus at the intersection of two continents. As a geo-political fulcrum its 
location was strategic, its geographic position augmented its strength. Not 
only did the site control trade between the Black and Mediterranean Seas, 
and between Asia Minor and the Balkans, but it also could potentially rely 
upon a vast and sea borne provisioning zone stretching from the Crimean 
peninsula to Egypt and beyond. With its conquest Mehmed II (the 
Conqueror) not only fulfilled an Islamic aspiration but also liberated the 
imperial core of an empire that already encompassed much of that zone 
and enveloped most of the territory that formerly had been Byzantium. 

Before 1453 it had been possible for Europeans to conceive the Turkic 
invaders — Seljuk as well as Ottoman - as a temporary setback, however 
prolonged, in the advance of Christendom. European states and peoples 
accommodated the troublesome nomads, even traded and made treaties 
with them. Few, however, accepted them as part of a fixed political land- 
scape. After 1453 this worldview was hard to sustain. The Byzantine 
Empire had exploited Constantinople's unparalleled strategic location 
and had endured 1,000 years. Why would the Ottoman Empire not do 
the same? 

Converging communities 

The fall of Byzantine Constantinople seemed a horrifying and decisive 
turning point to many Europeans, an interpretation that most historians 
embrace. Nevertheless, the event liberated that city from a smothering en- 
circlement. Somewhat paradoxically, it also inaugurated a merging of the 
Christian European and Ottoman worlds. Hostilities certainly continued. 


The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

2 As with most portraits of the early Ottoman sultans, this one of 
Sultan Mehmed Han, the conqueror of Constantinople, is highly styl- 
ized. Nevertheless, perhaps because of models based upon Gentile 
Bellini's work, this woodcut seems more realistic than most. Boissard, 
Vitae et icones sultanorum turcica, p. 4 1 . 

One cannot ignore Siileyman's campaigns in Hungary and his sieges of 
Vienna and Malta in the mid sixteenth century, or the explosive naval en- 
gagements that crested at Lepanto in 1571. Nevertheless, alliances, com- 
merce, and the movements of peoples more and more institutionalized 

Introduction 1 5 

and complicated relations between other European and Ottoman civiliza- 
tions. In fact, in the economic, political, and even religious spheres the 
Ottomans assumed many of the duties that previously had characterized 
Byzantine relations with western Europe. 

Before 1453, for example, Europe had usually taken the initiative in 
commerce that involved the southern (Islamic) Mediterranean basin. It 
had done so in part because, while it was virtually impossible for Muslims 
to trade and reside in most Christian lands, European Christians could 
live in many Islamic societies as "People of the Book," that is, as those 
who heeded the sacred writings of Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. '^ In 
the late medieval Mamluk Empire, for example, quarters for Venetian and 
Genoese merchants existed in Alexandria, Aleppo, and elsewhere. More 
importantly, Europe simply produced little of interest to the peoples of 
the Islamic Middle East. Italian merchants who sought the silk, pepper, 
cinnamon, and other spices that flowed through Syrian and Egyptian 
ports had little other than bullion to offer in return. Although Muslims 
certainly were involved in this trade, their businesses tended to be sta- 
tionary. It was merchants from the northwest who traversed the trading 
corridors of the Mediterranean. 

Christian Europe did not suddenly begin drawing Muslim merchants 
after 1453. Nevertheless, after that date the initiative in commerce began 
to swing to the Ottoman Empire as Ottoman merchants began to ven- 
ture into the European world. Those who did so, however, were rarely 
Muslim. It was other subjects of the socially complex empire -Armenian 
Christians, Greek Orthodox Christians, and Jews - who took advantage 
of their opportunity simultaneously to traverse the Ottoman domain and 
to organize trading networks across southern and western European port 

The commerce of the Armenian middlemen originated in Persia, found 
in silk an eminently marketable commodity, and by the early seven- 
teenth century had expanded to the farthest reaches of northern Europe 
and eastern Asia. In the Ottoman Empire, the Armenians constituted a 
Christian community to whom the government granted autonomy in re- 
ligion, economic life, and even internal politics. Their religion also gave 
them access to the lands of Christian Europe. Thus, they moved easily 
in both societies. 

The Ottoman polity served as the linchpin of this far-flung commercial 
network, granting Armenian traders a reliable anchorage as they pursued 

'^ Mark R. Cohen, Under crescent and cross: the Jews in the Middle Ages (Princeton, NJ, 

'^ See on these networks Phihp D. Curtin, Cross-cultural trade in world history (Cambridge, 

16 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

their risky endeavors. Armenian peddlers, meanwhile, not only brought 
to the Ottomans knowledge of the East, but also helped couple the two re- 
ligious segments of the Greater Western World. Armenians from Istanbul 
and Izmir journeyed to Venice, Livorno, Marseilles, even to Amsterdam 
and St. Petersburg. This trading network helped produce a uniform com- 
mercial method throughout the Mediterranean and European worlds, a 
technological and cultural interplay between the Ottoman Empire and 
the rest of Europe, and a new people - the Levantines - who eventually 
became the principal communicators between the two zones. 

Such adaptable persons - those who can conform to two or more soci- 
eties even as they remain distinct from each — have long been associated 
with international commerce, whose merchants must be polyglot and 
compliant in order to survive. Economically at least such marginality vir- 
tually defined the Jewish community as it existed in both Christian and 
Ottoman Europe. ^^ In each situation, the Jews constituted a religious 
minority, politically dominated by a rival monotheism. As such, they had 
to be familiar with and willing to adjust to their hosts' societies, and they 
had to be conversant in their languages. The irony is that even as both 
Christians and Muslims exhibited much the same hostility toward the 
Jews as they felt toward each other, Jews — particularly as traders and es- 
pecially during the great confrontations of the sixteenth century — became 
instrumental in bridging the ideological chasm that separated much of 
Europe and the Ottoman Empire.^" 

Repercussions from the conquest of Constantinople proved crucial 
in the development of trans-Mediterranean commerce. Before 1453, 
Mediterranean Jewry existed in at least three distinct communities - 
the Spanish-speaking Iberian, the Arab-speaking Egyptian and Syrian, 
and the Greek-speaking Byzantine. After 1453, these communal lines 
became blurred. First of all. Sultan Mehmed IPs policy of resettling in 
Istanbul Jews from the Balkans and Anatolia created a new mix of Jews 
of Ashkenazic (German), Romaniot (Greek), and Karaite (heterodox) 
origin. Secondly, the Christian reconquest of Iberia and the resultant 
policy of repression (culminating in the Spanish expulsion of Jews in 
1492) pushed thousands of Sephardic Jews into Ottoman domains. 
Thirdly, the conquests of Syria and Egypt in 1516-17 transferred the 
ancient Arab-Jewish community into Ottoman hands. ^^ 

By 1550 these communities had fused into an uneasy amalgam that 
drew upon the various civilizations of Europe as well as the Middle East to 

'' On which, see Cohen, Under crescent and cross. 

^^ For the sixteenth century in particular, see Benjamin Arbel, Trading nations: Jews and 

Venetians in the early modern eastern Mediterranean (Leiden, 1995). 
^' Avigdor Levy, The sephardim in the Ottoman Empire (Princeton, NJ, 1992). 

Introduction 17 

fashion a new society. Particularly its Sephardic elements helped adapt the 
Christian-European and Ottoman administrations and economies to each 
other's commercial norms. Through Jews residing in Venice, Bordeaux, 
Amsterdam, and London, Ottoman subjects for the first time recipro- 
cated the foreign settlements in Istanbul, Izmir, Aleppo, and Alexandria. 
Ottoman Jewish subjects made good use of the knowledge gained by 
direct exposure to southern and western Europe. They involved them- 
selves in Ottoman textile production and employed western-European 
commercial techniques to compete with western-European merchants. 
Jews also bought positions in Ottoman finances and negotiated with 
Venetian, French, English, and Dutch merchants over customs dues, and 
Jewish brokers, factors, and translators represented foreign merchants 
and diplomats in Ottoman towns and villages and before Ottoman offi- 
cials. Through their ventures — often in concert with Ottoman Arab Mus- 
lims, Armenian Christians, Orthodox Greeks, and Turkish Muslims - 
commercial relations became cultural ties. Englishmen, Frenchmen, and 
Ottomans involved themselves in these exchanges and built and crossed 
economic, cultural, and political bridges by doing so. 

The heyday for Greek Orthodox commerce did not arrive until the 
eighteenth century, when the Phanariot of Istanbul linked up with co- 
religionists in Ottoman outports not only to dominate seaborne com- 
merce within the Ottoman Mediterranean world, but also to direct the 
government's fiscal procedures and even challenge the Atlantic seaboard 
states in their own entrepots. Even earlier, however, Greek Orthodox 
merchants had managed the intra-imperial carrying trade, Greek bro- 
kers had controlled commercial exchanges in many Ottoman port towns, 
and it had been Greek sailors who helped found and long remained the 
backbone of Ottoman naval and merchant marines. ^^ 

Thus, even as Sultan Siileyman challenged Emperor Charles V on 
the Mediterranean Sea and in the Balkans militarily and ideologically, 
Ottoman subjects busily wove together the commercial and social fabrics 
of Ottoman and Christian Europe. Religious discord often collided with 
personal interests in the streets of Istanbul, Aleppo, and Salonika as well 
as among directors of trading companies and in the councils of state, 
especially the Sublime Porte. The Armenian, Greek Orthodox, Jewish, 
and even inchoate Muslim trading diasporas eased communication and 
encouraged among these circles a more cohesive outlook. If inter-relations 
between the states of southern Europe and the Ottoman Empire had been 
piecemeal and largely theoretical in the fifteenth century, by the end of the 

See, however, Palmira Brummett, Ottoman seapower and Levantine diplomacy in the Age 
of Discovery (Albany, NY, 1994) for a somewhat contrary view. 

18 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

sixteenth century a wide gamut of interests had entwined the Ottomans 
into the European order of states and economies. The economic and 
social crises to come jarred this system. What emerged by 1700, however, 
was an almost universal perception of the Ottoman Empire as a European 

A changing image in Europe 

Modern historians, however, rarely imagine the Ottoman Empire even 
in this period as a part of Europe, an area that they associate with crisis, 
change, and improvement (the obverse of the fantasy of an immutable 
Orient). Virulent religious wars concluded the sixteenth century; the bru- 
tal Thirty Years War helped usher in the next lengthy conflict. Drastic 
transformations occurred in food production, demographics, global 
commerce, and governance. Commonwealths arose in England and the 
Netherlands; governments became more centralized. These mutations 
concocted a Europe that in 1700 looked radically different than it had in 
1500, a transformation that some historians have interpreted teleologi- 
cally as a climb toward modernity or some other stated or implied goal. 
Most of these changes touched the Ottoman Empire as much as they did 
the rest of Europe. Nevertheless, even when scholars do acknowledge 
these developments, in this "oriental" context the influences are said to 
have marked decay rather than signaled progress. 

Such a conclusion is not unreasonable when one considers how dra- 
matically the Ottoman Empire's relationship with the rest of Europe had 
changed. The military balance certainly had shifted decisively toward the 
West, and Christian Europeans no longer feared that the "Turk" would 
sweep westward, despoiling, plundering, enslaving, and converting. It is 
not tenable, however, to see in this new balance an absolute Ottoman de- 
cline. Just as Spain, Portugal, or the Italian states responded differently 
and less successfully to the seventeenth century crises than did England 
or France, so did the Ottoman Empire. In no case did these Mediter- 
ranean states become less a part of the Greater Western World; in no case 
were they abandoned or forgotten by the rest of Europe. 

In the Ottoman instance, the advance toward integration in fact quick- 
ened during the seventeenth century. This circumstance has not often 
been noted, perhaps because it was not reflected in the policies of the 
Ottoman state, which sought to "reform" itself to past days of glory and 
did not begin emulating innovations in the rest of Europe until the fol- 
lowing century. Rather than the government assuming the lead, Ottoman 
subjects and foreigners residing in Mediterranean port cities and along 
Balkan borderlands intensified their dialogues and carved out commercial 

Introduction 1 9 

and social enclaves along the Ottoman frontiers. In these provincial mi- 
lieus, Jews and Muslims began to lose their commercial pre-eminence as 
cross-cultural communicators to others who were less dependent upon 
the goodwill of the Ottoman central government. 

This transfer of economic power from one Ottoman subject people to 
another also helped weaken the Ottoman state (but perhaps not Ottoman 
society), for, as one consequence of the new association between western 
European and local Ottoman merchants and officials, Istanbul began to 
lose control over customs and other revenues. The resulting economic 
and political decentralization proved advantageous to many Ottoman 
subjects, and helped further integrate the Ottoman economy with the 
rest of Europe. Not only Armenians and Greek Orthodox Christians, 
but also Englishmen, Dutchmen, and Frenchmen muscled aside Jewish 
and Muslim middlemen and assumed dominant stations in the new 
Levantine world being fashioned by their multiple alliances. The changes 
simultaneously affecting both Ottoman and western European society fa- 
cilitated the abilities of these Levantines to communicate. For example. 
Englishmen fleeing the upheavals of their civil wars in the 1640s expe- 
rienced and could exploit the similar disturbances contemporaneously 
jarring the Ottoman world. ^^ 

It is probably accurate to imagine the Ottoman Empire as non- 
European before the late 1400s. Although the two entities already shared 
much, their ideological, political, military, economic, and historical dis- 
similarities remained overwhelming. Over the next centuries, however, 
the Ottoman Empire and other parts of Europe learned from and more 
and more resembled each other. Differences remained, particularly in the 
ideological realm. Although few eighteenth-century western Europeans 
referred any longer to the Ottomans as the terror of Europe, as had 
Richard Knolles in the late sixteenth century,^^ the image that replaced 
it - the sick man of Europe - was hardly any more positive and was more 
inclusive only in a negative sense. Not respect or inclusion but contempt 
replaced fear in the minds of many Christian Europeans. 

Nevertheless, the dense reality simply did not fit this simple-minded 
construct - expressed by contemporaries and twentieth-century histo- 
rians alike — of a religious animosity that engendered almost complete 
separation. However reluctantly, the rest of Europe learned to accept its 
Ottoman slice as a successor to Byzantium. Dutch, English, French, and 
Venetian ambassadors resided in Istanbul, and the Ottomans became 

^^ Goffman, Britons. 

'^^ The generall historie of the Turkes, 2nd edn (London, 1610), "Introduction to the Chris- 
tian reader," as quoted in Christine Woodhead, " 'The present terrour of the world'? 
contemporary views of the Ottoman Empire c. 1600," History 72(1987): 20. 

20 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

part - perhaps even the core - of the diplomatic system that had arisen 
out of Italy in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Armenian, Greek 
Orthodox, and Jewish Ottoman merchants roamed Mediterranean and 
even Atlantic waters. Islam and Judaism were acknowledged (if not ac- 
cepted) as part of the re-evaluation of the relationship between religion 
and society that accompanied the early modern collapse of the Catholic 
ecumene. Even ideologically, then, differences receded and the two soci- 
eties more and more resembled each other. An examination of this state of 
affairs opens for the historian a new world of research and interpretation. 

Part 1 

State and society in the Ottoman world 

Kubad's formative years 

Even the infidel comes to the fold of the faithful, but not the heretic 

dervish; the infidel has receptivity but not him. 
He is out of the sphere of hope while the infidel is in the circle of fear 

of God, 
By God, the infidel is far superior to him.' 

The young boy Kubad had no memory of his mother. He had only heard tales 
and rumors: that she was a prostitute, a gypsy, a Tatar princess, and, most 
extraordinary of all, that she had been a favorite of Ibrahim Pasha, Sultan 
Siileyman's powerful if ill-fated grand vizier who led Ottoman armies and 
conquered Baghdad in 1634, only to be executed two years later by sultanic 

Not that it really mattered to Kubad. The only mother he had ever known — 
his "milk mother" — was the daughter of a venerated Shaykh of the Haydari 
order of dervishes. The boy spent his first years near the Ottoman frontier town 
of Erzincan, in a rustic hamlet next to the tekke^ or house of worship, of this 
Shaykh. One of his earliest memories was of an elder reciting the strange words 
inscribed on the door of this tekke.- "he who wants to enter our religion should 
live as we do, and preserve his chastity." Kubad was so familiar with those who 
did join this devout order, that he thought nothing of their appearance. Other 
than a drooping mustache and a long tuft of hair at their foreheads, the heads 
of these worshipers were clean shaven. On all their limbs they wore heavy iron 
rings, and on their heads were towering conical hats. Bells, suspended at their 
sides, banged away as they danced about, chanting poems and praising God. 
Only much later did the boy understand how deviating these customs were, that 

' Vahidi, Menakib-i Hvoca-i Cihan ve Netice-i Canu, fols. 52a— 52n; as quoted in Kara- 
mustafa, God's unruly friends^ p. 6. 

^ Most of our knowledge about Kubad comes from Venetian sources, which Arbel has 
culled. Mentions of this favui (on which see "Cha'ush," Encyclopedia of Islam, 2nd edn 
[Leiden, 1962- ], hereafter referred to as EI) are scattered through the pages of his 
Trading nations. We know nothing of Kubad's youth other than his name, which suggests 
an association with the Kubad River in Circassia. What follows in this vignette on his 
early years is pure speculation. 

^ This order is discussed in BCaramustafa, God's unruly friends, pp. 57-70. 


24 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

the iron rings reeked of animistic paganism, the prayers echoed infidel Christian 
ones, and the hats resembled the headgear of Shi'ite heretics. 

At the age of eight or nine, Kubad's life suddenly veered when a troop of 
Ottoman cavalry swooped into his village and carried him off. Two weeks later, 
he found himself standing all alone and silent in a three-day vigil construed to 
initiate him into a refined if isolated existence at the Ottoman sultan's palace 
school for male pages. After this exercise, the head eunuch declared that the 
youth had now entered the Ottoman governing elite. The young boy, still so 
impressionable and raw, soon had settled in at Topkapi Palace in the heart 
of the capital of the sultan Siileyman's empire, living a life profoundly more 
luxurious and also incomparably more restrictive than the one from which he 
had been torn. 

There were first of all no dervishes in this tiny world. In fact, Kubad saw 
no one who even remotely resembled any of the inhabitants of the small village 
in which he had spent his young boyhood. Instead, he resided in the third 
and most interior and opulent courtyard of the Ottoman sultan's palace. Here, 
he was thrust as a novitiate into a rigidly hierarchal existence in a closely 
scheduled, spartan, jam-packed, and single-sex dormitory together with some 
400 clean-shaven boys. Here, he was expected to uphold a strict code of behavior 
whose showpiece was absolute public silence. Kubad only later discovered that 
the boys' strange hand movements constituted a special language that the pages 
had developed over the years to make up for their compulsory voicelessness. 
Incorruptibly ruling over these boys were five imperial eunuchs, whose castration 
physically symbolized their distinct condition and their absolute devotion to and 
dependency upon the sultan and his household. 

Kubad, in short, had become an imperial page, who was being trained to 
assume high position in the Ottoman administration. He settled into a routine of 
schooling that rigorously taught him the Ottoman language of the ruling class — 
so utterly richer and more refined than the Turkish vernacular with which he 
had grown up — and the urbane etiquette of the court, and instructed him along 
with the other boys in the ins and outs of Islamic doctrine. He also trained in 
the sports and crafts that distinguished the Ottoman elite, and learned absolute 
obedience to his master, the sultan. 

Kubad entered puberty in this world, and gradually moved up through the 
hierarchy until he attained the rare honor of attending — silently, unobtrusively, 
and with constant vigil — upon Sultan Siileyman himself. Throughout, the 
royal eunuchs observed him closely, assessed his talents, and judged how this 
gifted youth best could serve the Ottoman state. The young man saw his older 
companions graduate from this "inner service" into the imperial "outer service" 
askapiciSj hoitancK, janissaries, and other sorts of servants of the sultan. Once 

^ The description of Kubad's life at the palace school relies upon Giilru Necipoglu's ex- 
ceptional reconstruction in Architecture^ ceremojiial, and power: the Topkapi Palace in the 
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries (Cambridge, iVIA, 1991), pp. 111-20; and "Ghulam," EI. 

Kubad's formative years 


B IT.1.T -Trij-wursei] . 


i>,)t-A«ii\ , 


3 Two of these four servants of the Ottoman sultan in this early 
nineteenth-century print are gavu§es, as was Kubad, the protagonist in 
this book's vignettes. The figure on the upper left is a pursuivant of 
the Imperial Divan; the one on the upper right is a serjeant-of-arms in 
imperial processions. One of the bottom two officials carried the im- 
perial footstool; the other assured that the sultan's thirst was promptly 
quenched. D'Ohsson, Tableau general de I'Empire othoman, vol. Ill, 2nd 
plate after p. 294. 

26 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

gone, it was as if they had ceased to exist, for no graduate ever returned to this 
third and most interior courtyard of the palace. 

Kubad's own graduation ceremony occurred in his eighteenth year. He along 
with several other pages stood before the sultan and one by one kissed his hand 
before receiving vestments, a turban, and some money. The new graduate then 
left the confines of the third courtyard for the first and last time, passed through 
the second courtyard amidst much fanfare and throwing of coinage, stopped 
in the first courtyard to pick up a horse at the imperial stables, and crossed into 
the government's outer service as a 5avu§. 

The young page overnight was reborn as an imperial pursuivant, and even 
his physical appearance soon had utterly altered as he donned the turban and 
allowed his facial hair to grow out into a full and impressive beard. His principal 
charge was to carry the Sublime Porte's decrees into the city of Istanbul as well as 
the farflung Ottoman provinces. He also was issued specific verbal instructions 
and granted the authority to make sure that these imperial commands were 
obeyed, and years of training and close observation guaranteed that his edu- 
cation and personality fitted him for the job. Kubad and his colleagues formed 
the principal means of communications between the Ottoman government and 
its subjects. They also constituted the closest organization the Ottomans had to 
a diplomatic corps. A gavu§ might find himself in Isfahan or Venice, even in 
Paris or London or Delhi as an emissary — the official voice of the Ottoman 
Empire itself. 

Fabricating the Ottoman state 

At that time [the reign of Murad I (1362-89)] the tax was low. 
Conditions were such that even the unbelievers were not oppressed. It 
was not the practice to seize their purse [clothes?] or their ox or their 
son or their daughter and sell them or hold them as pledges. At that 
time the rulers were not greedy. Whatever came into their hands they 
gave away again, and they did not know what a treasury was. But when 
Hayreddin Pasha came to the Gate [of the government] greedy 
scholars became the companions of the rulers. They began by 
displaying piety and then went on to issue rulings [fewd\. "He who is 
ruler must have a treasury," they said. At that time they won over the 
rulers and influenced them. Greed and oppression appeared. Indeed, 
where there is greed there must also be oppression. In our time it has 
increased. Whatever oppression and corruption there is in this country 
is due to scholars.' 

We have no real record of the early Ottoman state. Other than a few 
architectural remains and coins, virtually everything we know about the 
first overlords (emirs), Osman, Orhan, and Murad, is second-hand. Some 
of our information derives from Byzantine, Genoese, and other outsider 
witnesses to the birth of this state; much of it comes from the histories 
of later Ottomans who reconstructed the past from the jumbled recollec- 
tions of their elders in order to justify or condemn the Ottoman state 
as it existed in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Such is certainly 
the case with the anonymous chronicler quoted at the beginning of this 
chapter, who used an undocumented tale of life under the emir Murad 
to critique the reign of Sultan Mehmed II and his band of fraudulent 
"scholars." This passage, more revealing about the discontented age in 
which the author lived than about how the Ottoman state was fashioned, 
is representative of a whole genre, whose principal concern was to concoct 

' "Anonymous Ottoman Chronicle," pp. 25—25. Quoted in Bernard Lewis (ed. and trans.), 
Islam from the Prophet Muhammad to the capture of Constantinople^ Vol. I: Politics and war 
(Oxford, 1987), p. 135. 


28 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

an Ottoman past that either glorified or condemned (depending upon the 
writer's stance) the Ottoman present.^ 

The historian thus must sift through the fitful musings of fearful for- 
eigners struggling against an expanding Islamic state as well as the self- 
serving reminiscences of representatives of an established world empire 
as he or she tries to reconstruct the origins of this world state. Some 
deem the undertaking quixotic and foolhardy, arguing that our sources 
are so politicized and their creators so intent on legitimizing the Ottoman 
dynasty that they are of use only in ascertaining what the Ottomans and 
their enemies wanted its foundation to have been, rather than what it 
actually was.^ Others accept the words of Ottoman chronicles, written 
two or three generations after the events, almost at face value, seeming 
at times to take quite literally such legends as Osman's dream of a moon 
floating from a Sufi Shaykh into his navel, out of which a tree sprouted, 
whose shade encompassed the earth: representing, of course, the House 
of Osman's future world empire.^ 

It can even be argued that when modern historians have approached the 
early Ottoman state, they no less than Ottoman chroniclers have at times 
written more about their own times and selves than about their topic. 
The intent of one of the earliest such accounts, written by Gibbons, an 
American resident in Istanbul, and published during the First World War, 
certainly aimed to explain the origins of an empire tottering on the edge of 
demise.^ In his allusions to the "Great War" and his uncritical adoption of 
the racist underpinnings of turn-of-the-century nationalism, the author 
juxtaposes the civilizing influences of the West against the barbarisms of 
the East to conclude that the Ottomans' glory had rested on Byzantine 
institutions; their incurable defect was that they carried a savage line in 
their blood. 

This thesis stimulated a historiographical debate that threads its way 
through and beyond the twentieth century. Its principal argument con- 
cerns the roots of the Ottoman genius: was the Ottoman Empire a legacy 
of the Byzantines, the Arabs, or the Central Asians? This question, which 

^ A sharp discussion of Ottoman use of the past is Colin Imber, "Ideals and legitimation in 
early Ottoman history," in Silleyman the Magnificent and his age: the Ottoman Empire in the 
early modern world, ed. Metin Kunt and Christine Wbodhead (Harlow, Essex, England, 
1995), pp. 138-53. 

^ Colin Imber is the most forceful proponent of this view. See particularly his "Canon and 
Apocrypha in Early Ottoman History," in Studies in Ottoman history in honour of Professor 
V L. Menage, ed. Colin Heywood and Colin Imber (Istanbul, 1994), pp. 117—37. 

* A story told by several Ottoman chroniclers, and repeated by virtually every historian 
of Ottoman origins since. For an incisive discussion of this tradition and its uses, see 
Kafadar, Between two worlds, pp. 8-9 and 132-33. Kafadar's book should be the starting 
point for any examination of the early Ottoman world. 
Gibbons, Foundation. 

Fabricating the Ottoman state 29 

would have been almost meaningless to the Ottomans themselves, has 
raged in the twentieth century in part because the ideology of imperial- 
ism has justified itself by claiming that the West brings civilization to the 
Orient. Equally important is that the ideologies of the nationalisms of 
Ottoman successor states have demanded imagined pasts that centered 
the identities of their own nations at the expense of rival identities such 
as the Ottoman one.^ This mixture of suspect sources and muddying 
agendas makes any rendering of Ottoman origins particularly specula- 
tive and perilous, and the discussion offered here merely presents prob- 
abilities by assessing what evidence exists in light of human psychology 
and comparable historical activities in the Middle East, America, and 

Imagined beginnings 

Religion permeated the Mediterranean world during the age of the Cru- 
sades (1097 - c. 1453). It helped produce the separation between West 
and East, and it justified and excused war, massacre, and murder. Both 
Catholicism and Sunni Islam jealously guarded their orthodoxies. These 
stubbornly conventional and monotheistic religions left little room for 
adaptation or revision. Indeed, Crusaders remain even today a symbol 
of religiously excused ruthlessness. Nevertheless, even in this ideological 
sphere the lines between the Islamic and Christian European worlds - 
especially along their frontiers —were porous and the contacts were often 
symbiotic. Islamic societies surrounded the small states that Crusaders 
established in Syria and Palestine, and these new settlers soon learned 
to coexist with their neighbors. The Arab chronicler Usamah explained 
the ignorance of newly arrived crusaders: "Everyone who is a fresh emi- 
grant from the Prankish lands is ruder in character than those who have 
become acclimatized and have held long association with the Moslems." 
He then relates the following tale as evidence: 

Whenever I visited Jerusalem I always entered the Aqsa Mosque, beside which 
stood a small mosque which the Franks had converted into a church. When I used 
to enter the Aqsa Mosque, which was occupied by the Templars, . . . who were my 
friends, the Templars would evacuate the little adjoining mosque so that I might 
pray in it. One day I entered this mosque, repeated the first formula, "Allah is 
great," and stood up in the act of praying, upon which one of the Franks rushed 
on me, got hold of me and turned my face eastward saying, "This is the way thou 
shouldst pray!" A group of Templars hastened to him, seized him and repelled 

On which see Benedict Anderson, Imagined communities: reflections on the origin and spread 
of nationalism (London, 1983). 

30 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

him from me . . . They apologized to me, saying, "This is a stranger who has only 
recently arrived from the land of the Franks and he has never before seen anyone 
praying except eastward."^ 

Usamah recounted this anecdote not only to express the ignorance of 
the crusaders, but also to show how thoroughly exposure to the Islamic 
world had changed (or, in his thinking, "civilized") the barbarians from 
the West. In other words, even in this brutal milieu personal contact 
refined and complicated perceptions of the "Other." Stereotypes based 
upon fear and ignorance dissipated through contact. In the process, the 
very characters of the conquering Crusaders as well as their local victims 
became altered. 

Usamah concretely describes processes that typify frontier societies. 
However brutal the immediate effects of the Crusades may have been, 
some of their long-term consequences were to educate the adversaries 
about each other and to establish commercial and cultural relations be- 
tween them. The American frontier has been portrayed similarly as a 
"middle ground."^ Just as our memories of European history privilege 
the butcheries of the crusaders, such as the "rivers of blood" that flowed 
down the streets of Jerusalem after its capture in 1099, over other aspects 
of their sojourn in the Middle East, so do we tend to hark back to the wars 
and massacres that punctuated relations between native Americans and 
colonists, and forget the decades of coexistence, identity switching, and 
"engendering" that prefaced and even attended the demographic blitz of 
European colonization in the Americas. 

The Turkoman push across Anatolia should be recalled similarly. The 
almost 400-year history of Turkoman-Byzantine relations between the 
Seljuk defeat of a Byzantine army at the Battle of Manzikert in 1071 
and the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453 was more than a 
series of bloody military campaigns. It also was a period of compromise, 
accommodation, and mutual learning in which a frontier society in the 
process of formation endured and eventually flourished only by adapting 
to and assuming the structures and strategies of those civilizations that 
surrounded it. 

The political system out of which the Ottoman state emerged certainly 
constituted such a frontier society. To its east lay the successor states of 

Usamah Ibn-Munidh, An Arab-Syrian gentleman and warrior in the period of the Crusades^ 
trans. Philip K. Hitti (Princeton, NJ, 1987), pp. 163-64. Arab attitudes toward the 
Crusades are imaginatively recreated by Amin Maalouf, The Crusades through Arab eyes 
(New York, 1984). They are strongly fictionalized by Tariq Ali, The book of Saladin: a 
novel {¥iew York, 1999). 

On which see Richard White, The middle ground: Indians, empires, and republics in the 
Great Lakes region, 1650-1815 (Cambridge, IS 

Fabricating the Ottoman state 31 

the Mongol wave that had crashed across the Middle East in the early 
thirteenth century; to its west lay the Byzantine Empire, whose eastern 
frontiers, now in western Anatolia, served, as they had for some 600 years, 
as a bastion against Islam. A series of semi-independent principalities lay 
nestled between these two behemoths. Their titular head was the Seljuks 
of Rum (weakened by defeat at the hands of the Mongols), whose capital 
was in Konya. Nevertheless, a series of relatively small emirates - among 
them the Mente§eoglu, the Aydinoglu, the Saruhanoglu, the Karasioglu, 
and of course the Osmanoglu (the "Ottoman son") — had by the early 
fourteenth century emerged to challenge both Seljuk sovereignty over 
them and Byzantine control over western Anatolia. 

This frontier was in many ways a military march between two civi- 
lizations: the Byzantine and the Islamic. Such borders, however, tend to 
be fixed and unbending, which this frontier emphatically was not. The 
presence of these buffer emirates created a sense of "middle ground," of 
a world whose propensities toward compromise, adaptation, and hetero- 
doxy might give birth to innovative institutions and worldviews. It seems 
likely that the very foreignness of these "statelets" stimulated this con- 
dition. Their leaders were recent arrivals from Central Asia who were 
Turkic-speaking pastoralists. Some probably retained their animistic be- 
liefs, but even those who were Muslim (or Christian) had converted only 
recently. Furthermore, their political as well as religious practices re- 
mained more central Asian than Middle Eastern. This actuality is most 
tellingly revealed in local customs of inheritance: rulers divided their 
realms among sons, brothers, and other relatives, a practice which may 
have worked in nomadic societies, but which now repeatedly led to the 
quick collapse of both Mongol and Turkoman states and to political 
fragmentation within the Anatolian frontier zone.^ 

The emergence of the Ottoman state is incomprehensible unless one 
understands that this frontier society must have engendered cultural as 
well as political fractures. An emirate such as the Aydmoglus, for example, 
whose principality included the port town of Smyrna, quickly shrugged 
off its nomadic past, took to the seas, and became a naval power in the 
Aegean. It took the Ottomans, whose early state in Bithynia was land- 
locked, centuries to realize such a leading maritime presence. Similarly, 
a state such as the Ottoman one, which not only abutted Byzantium 
but also for long periods of time controlled the countrysides around 
Byzantine cities such as Nicaea and Bursa (and later Adrianople and 
Constantinople), must have been far more influenced by Christianity 
and the institutions of Byzantium than were the Aydmoglus, who shared 

' These characteristics are more fully explored in chapter 3. 


The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

4 This plate and the one that follows are both of Osman, the epony- 
mous founder of the Ottoman line. Each was produced by western 
European artists in the late sixteenth century, and each is utterly styl- 
ized. Lonicer's book focuses on Ottoman military exploits, an emphasis 
that is reflected in this Osman's imperious gaze, menacing mustaches, 
and sceptre and shield. Lonicer, Chronicorum turcicorum, vol. I (in one 
binding), p. 9. 

only the seas with the eastern Roman empire. In other words, although 
these emirates probably all were originated by charismatic chieftains, the 
particular qualities of their successors and their locations led them in 
different directions and toward divergent values. 

Fabricating the Ottoman state 33 

What lent these principalities legitimacy, drew followers to them, and 
propelled them to conquest? These questions have proven enigmatic 
and helped generate a fierce historiographical debate. Some have argued 
the centrality of Byzantine institutions, others of Turkoman customs, 
others of Islam, and still others of an inclusive tribalism. '° The third of 
these hypotheses (popularly know as "the gazi thesis") has proven the 
most durable and accepted. It argues that the early Ottomans and other 
western-Anatolian Turkomans had converted to Islam at some time dur- 
ing their migrations across Central Asia, Persia, and Anatolia and had 
become dedicated, even fanatical, warriors on behalf oi gaza (holy war). 
The ideology of these gazis thus lent impetus and legitimacy to their striv- 
ings against the Byzantine infidel. Others have questioned this attractively 
coherent thesis on various grounds: that it neglects the nomadic struc- 
ture of Turkoman society, which tended to be ethnically and religiously 
inclusive rather than exclusive; that it cannot explain the presence of 
many non-Islamic, even Christian, institutions in these states; and that 
such newly converted groups - who evidence suggests regularly fell into 
and out of various forms of Christianity and Islam — could not have rep- 
resented the normative, or orthodox, Islam that holy war required. It 
even has been asserted, with some logic, that Osman, the founder of the 
Ottoman dynasty, himself may not have been Muslim, or even Turkic! 

A recent and sophisticated reworking of the gazi thesis answers many 
of these objections. ^^ The author bases his argument upon a less rigid 
definition of gazi and suggests that in such a plastic and ever-shifting 
world (so different from the age of the nation-state), ideology also must 
have remained unsettled. He uses the term "bricolage" to describe how 
the early Ottomans (and, with less success, other emirates) must have 
piled up various traditions and beliefs and fused them into a new civ- 
ilization. One centerpiece of the argument is that fanaticism does not 
demand orthodoxy. In other words, the newly converted, however het- 
erodox and ignorant of the basic tenets of her or his faith, is often the 
most passionate of believers - even as he or she is also the most likely 
to abandon one faith for another. We all have watched such individuals, 
moving from Christianity to Judaism to Islam to Buddhism, searching for 
enlightenment, acting zealously on behalf of whatever faith they currently 
embrace, and ending up either as rigorous advocates of one or another 
orthodoxy or in some ecumenical faith like Baha'ism or Unitarianism. 
Why should the world of the emirates, in which neither a strong central 
authority nor an embedded cultural heritage existed to insist on a par- 
ticular set of beliefs, have been any different? In western Anatolia during 

'" Gibbons in Foundation argues the first of these, Koprulii in Origins the second, Wittek 
in Rise the third, and Lindner in Nomads the fourth. 
Kafadar, Between two worlds. 

34 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

the 1300s, vacillating Christians and Muslims routinely married each 
other, converted to each other's faiths, and borrowed from each other's 
social and political structures, even as they gave, sometimes literally, their 
lives to whichever of these faiths they at times fleetingly embraced. 

The early Ottoman state 

Historical context may help explain the existence, the ideologies, and 
the idiosyncrasies of these frontier principalities. It does not, however, 
make clear how a particular one of them transformed itself into a world 
empire. Indeed, it is tempting simply to turn to the "great man" the- 
ory, to ascribe to genius the particular decisions that the early Ottomans 
made regarding the structure of their state and their methods of war- 
fare, to confess the political and military brilliance of the first Ottomans, 
Osman, Orhan, Murad, and Bayezid, and leave it at that. Certainly, great- 
ness should not be discounted. As the above-mentioned historian insists: 
"the Ottomans were much more experimental in reshaping [conquered 
societies] to need, much more creative in their bricolage of different tra- 
ditions, be they Turkic, Islamic, or Byzantine" than were their rivals.'^ 
Nevertheless, as the same author also argues, local conditions and acci- 
dent conferred upon the nascent Ottoman state a number of benefits. 

Historians ascribe Ottoman success to several providential factors. 
These included the frontier location of settlements, a seemingly endless 
supply of warriors displaced by a persistent Mongol pressure, a syncretic 
form of Islam that allowed for political and ideological elasticity, and a de- 
terioration in the Byzantine system of defense. A comparison with another 
emirate helps demonstrate the effectiveness of this particular combination 
of circumstances. The Aydinoglus shared with the Ottomans a syncretic 
ideology and abundant manpower; nevertheless, having reached the Ana- 
tolian coast, they soon lacked a common frontier with their enemy and 
thus seem to have found it difficult to draw warriors to their banner. In 
other words, the Aydinoglus no longer could expand by land because of 
other emirates - the Saruhanoglu to their north and the Mente§eoglu to 
their south. The emirate resorted to alliance with the Byzantines against 
Latin forces, and in 1345 a crusading army crushed their House. Having 
reached the Marmara Sea, the Ottomans faced a similar dilemma, and 
overcame it by passing across the Dardanelles Straits and into Europe 
(which they were able to do only because of Byzantine assistance). 

The early Ottoman state seems to have appeared on the Byzantine 
frontier at a particularly vulnerable time and place. In 1261, the emperor 
had moved his capital back to Constantinople after almost sixty years of 

'^ Kafadar, Between two worlds, p. 121. 

Fabricating the Ottoman state 


5 Osman's physiognomy in this depiction seems utterly transformed. 
Not only has his nose softened, his eyes become more prominent, and 
his facial hair grown out, but he seems far less intimidating and more 
prudent and wise than does Lonicer's rendition. Boissard, Vitae et icones 
sultanorum turcica., p. 4. 

exile (as a result of the Fourth Crusade) across the Sea of Marmara in 
Nicaea. This relocation prompted a refocus of Byzantine attention from 
its Anatolian to its European provinces, and helped expose all of western 
Anatolia to Turkoman incursions, which occurred with growing intensity 


Fabricating the Ottoman state 37 

because of flight from Mongol conquests in Central Asia, Persia, and 
eastern Anatolia. One such Turkoman group, the tribe to which Osman 
belonged according to Ottoman legend, established itself in the region of 
Bithynia near Nicaea and soon became a political and military force there. 
The embryonic state expanded quickly in the early fourteenth century. 
In about 1301 Osman defeated a small Byzantine force at Baphaeon, in 
1326 his son captured Bursa, and in 1331 the former Byzantine cap- 
ital Nicaea fell.'^ A decade or so later, Ottoman forces began appear- 
ing on the European side of the Dardanelles, and in the early 1350s 
that military presence became political with the capture of Tzympe and 

Osman and his successors thus took full advantage of their location, 
Byzantine weakness, and the continuous flow of Turkomans from the 
east. Doing so, however, called for a number of inspired strategies. First 
of all, the family's army could cross into Europe via the Dardanelles 
Straits only by flrst moving through the territory of another well-placed 
emirate, the Karasi, which Orhan's soldiers seem to have overrun and 
incorporated in the 1330s and 1340s, with some help from household 
feuds that spoiled that state's ability to resist. Orhan's successors only 
with difficulty were able to expunge the resulting animosity against their 
upstart state and its willingness to attack fellow gazi states (they seem 
to have done so in part by revising the history of this conquest). Sec- 
ondly, because the Ottomans had no navy, they could not cross an army 
into Europe without foreign assistance. They secured such aid from the 
Byzantines themselves through a series of adroit military and marriage 
alliances with various pretenders to the Byzantine throne (Orhan mar- 
ried into the royal Cantacuzenus family in order to seal such a pact). 
The Ottomans and other so-called gazis evidently saw no contradiction 
between their values and alliance with Christians, even against states that 
shared their supposed enmity toward Byzantium. 

The making of an imperial household 

These immediate successes should have meant little in the long run, for 
the Mongol and Turkoman convention of multiparty heirship (polygeni- 
ture) in any case would have broken the unity of the state within a matter 
of generations. Such had been the fate of the Seljuks, Chengiz Khan's 
empire, and many lesser polities. The Ottomans perhaps were not the 
only emirate that did not succumb to this flaw in state building, but they 
were most successful at flnding alternatives. In what seems to have been 

'^ The very dates of these major events in early Ottoman history are speculative. 

38 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

an inspired if brutal strategy, they moved to a system not of primogeni- 
ture, as became the norm in western Europe, but to one of unigeniture.^* 
That is, when a chieftain (and later a monarch) died, one of his sons, 
rather than many of his brothers and sons, succeeded him. When, why, 
and how this guiding principle took over, we do not know, although some 
such scheme must have been in place as early as c. 1324, when Orhan 
succeeded his father despite the presence of several brothers. 

Osman's declaration that his son should succeed him may have helped 
legitimize Orhan's triumph, although it does not sufficiently explain it. A 
father's wishes are rarely followed, and even in the Ottoman case favorite 
sons did not always inherit the throne. Nevertheless, despite some serious 
challenges, the Ottoman realm never was divided between heirs and no 
Ottoman ruler seems to have considered doing so, even after conquests 
in Europe might have made it seem logical to partition the kingdom 
at the Dardanelles Straits. Murad I (1362-89), Bayezid I (1389-1402), 
Mehmed I (1413-21), and Murad II (1421-44, 1446-51) all ruthlessly 
exterminated their brothers and other rivals rather than share (or lose) 
power. Finally, under Mehmed II (1444-46, 1451—81) the new principle 
was codified as the Ottoman law of fratricide.'^ 

Despite such signs of intentionality, the road toward unigeniture re- 
mained rocky, its institutionalization a matter of luck as well as strategy. 
Bayezid, for example, probably was able to eliminate his competent el- 
der brother Yakub with relative ease because it was Bayezid who in 1389 
was on the battlefield at Kosovo when his father fell, who completed 
the rout of the crusading army which challenged Ottoman hegemony in 
the Balkans, and who had a Christian mother at a time when much of the 
Ottoman army also was Christian. Yakub, meanwhile, had the misfortune 
to be far away in Anatolia. 

The fact that Bayezid was a younger son and that both he and Yakub 
led armies suggests a vital distinction between the Ottoman and other 
European monarchies: in the Ottoman case, no favorite legally existed 
until the succession actually occurred. In other words, all sons were 
groomed for the throne; all sons were expected to be capable to assume 
it even though only one would do so. The Ottoman choice to retain this 
particular element from their central Asian past while throwing off so 
many others was another example of genius (or luck), for by so doing the 
dynasty considerably improved its chances for an extended line of compe- 
tent rulers. It also demonstrates how this frontier state picked through its 
various legacies and fused them into an innovative and prevailing totality. 

''' The specifics of this vital transformation remain a mystery, on which see Kafadar, Between 

two worlds^ pp. 136—38. 
'' Discussed in chapter 3 below. 

Fabricating the Ottoman state 39 

Ottoman modifications in laws governing the transfer of power did 
prodtace some diffictalties. Civil war probably accompanied Orhan's and 
Murad's assumptions of power, and it certainly attended Bayezid's and 
Mehmed I's, with each victor ruthlessly having his rivals hunted down 
and murdered. Such violence may have consolidated power, for each 
regal death obviously ushered in a precarious moment for the Ottoman 
state, but it also gave a perception of barbarism and tended to produce 
resentment and pockets of resistance. After Yakub's assassination, for 
example, Bayezid began a long struggle against rival states in Anatolia who 
gained support even from Turkoman followers of the House of Osman, 
angry that their champion, Yakub, had lost the struggle for the Ottoman 

Of course, in capable hands the expunging of such threats could be 
turned to advantage. For example, the founding of a new army that would 
evolve into the janissary corps has often been attributed to Murad I's de- 
sire to counterbalance his most powerful cohorts (beys), who begrudged 
him his consolidation of power, his display of imperial trappings, and 
the loss of a sense of class solidarity that had characterized the emirates. 
Similarly, the drift toward orthodoxy that "began by displaying piety and 
then went on to issue rulings" (according to the anonymous chronicler 
quoted at the beginning of this chapter) has been explained as a reac- 
tion to the attractions of such charismatic and heterodox rivals as Shaykh 
Bedreddin. Active in 1416, just as Mehmed I struggled to consolidate 
his realm after an eleven-year civil war (1402-13), Bedreddin preached 
a social harmony between faiths that mightily appealed particularly to 
people (many important warriors among them) pining for the waning 
latitudinarian spirit of the frontier emirates. It surely is no coincidence 
that in the next decades Mehmed and his successors brought in scholars 
from the Islamic heartland and established prestigious theological sem- 
inaries (medreses) as they moved their developing state toward Islamic 

The detail that Yakub and Bayezid had different mothers highlights 
one of the domestic peculiarities of the Ottoman dynastic household - 
the existence of multiple wives and/or concubines and the expectation 
that each prince might have a different mother. This feature expresses 
a particularly Ottoman manifestation of both central Asian and Islamic 
legacies. In the nascent Ottoman state, a consort might be the offspring 
of a bey or spiritual guide, as in Osman's supposed marriages to Umur 
bey's daughter and to the daughter of the dervish shaykh Edebali. Or, 
the bride might come from a political rival, as with Orhan's marriages 
to the daughters of the Christian chieftain of Yarhisar and the Byzantine 
emperor John IV Cantacuzenus. Or she might have been taken in a raid, as 

40 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

probably was the case with Murad's concubine (and Bayezid's mother) 
Giilfifek who seems previously to have been a wife of a prince of the 
House of Karasi. It is striking that in each case the consort was one 
of several, she almost always came from outside the tribe, her cultural 
background and religious beliefs mattered not at all, and it seems to have 
been inconsequential (in terms of legitimacy of offspring at least) whether 
she was a wife or a slave, light- or dark-skinned.^^ 

This casual approach toward the personal histories of imperial com- 
panions probably derived in part from the fiercely patriarchic nature of 
the Ottoman concept of political culture and procreation. In other words, 
in terms of competence to inherit, the mother's pedigree was of no conse- 
quence; it was only germane that the father had been sultan. Nevertheless, 
the Ottomans did make rational choices and draw upon a number of tra- 
ditions in establishing the imperial household. The legacy of acquiring 
women through "raids" most likely came directly from a central Asian 
tradition; the employment of polygyny, that is multiple wives, probably 
derived from Islamic sources; the Ottomans may have learned of concu- 
binage from the Persians; and they may have adapted from the Byzantines 
the idea of securing alliance and treaty through marriages. 

From wherever they received these structures, the manner in which the 
Ottomans cobbled them together granted the dynasty enormous flexibil- 
ity, greatly enhanced its chances of prolonging itself, and guaranteed a 
steady entry of "new blood." The flexibility came from the state's abil- 
ity to cement multiple alliances through marriage, as Osman, Orhan, 
and Murad all seemed to have done. The dynastic prolongation came 
from the imperial House's ability, through multiple partners, to secure 
an heir. (This is exactly the consequence that many European rulers - 
including most notoriously Henry VIII of England - found so difficult 
to produce, and precisely the one that has allowed the Japanese impe- 
rial house, which until the twentieth century relied on concubinage, to 
last for some 2,500 years.) The "new blood" occurred because the dy- 
nasty's exogamous reproduction precluded the type of inbreeding that so 
debilitated the Habsburgs and other European dynasties. 

The Ottomans did not adopt all of these domestic approaches simul- 
taneously. Rather, their strategy evolved along with their state. For ex- 
ample, the family contracted many marriages with rival dynasties in its 
early years; once it was established, however, it preferred the security of 
partnering with slaves to the possibility that an infidel or heretical wife or 
mother might taint the monarch's values and conduct (just as much of 
England feared Charles I's French Catholic wife was doing in the 1 630s 

'* On these points, see especially Peirce, Imperial harem, pp. 32-42. 

Fabricating the Ottoman state 41 

and 1 640s). It is in fact likely that Murad was the last ruler whose mother 
was not a concubine. The Ottomans did not do away with marriage, but 
separated that institution from procreation. During the fifteenth and early 
sixteenth centuries not only did sultans always couple with concubines, 
but also an unwritten principle barred them from continuing sexual re- 
lations with the same woman once she had borne him a son.'^ This pro- 
hibition probably derived from a practical concern that the prince would 
become the focus of his mother's life. The aim was realized in two ways: 
first, the lack of a dowry or political power outside the Ottoman context 
made the concubine completely dependent upon the imperial household; 
second, the severing of intimate ties with the sultan forced her to focus 
exclusively upon the abilities of her only son (should he fail to win the 
throne, then she also would fail, and at best be condemned to isolated 
exile). We know neither the period during which such expediencies arose 
nor how unique they were to the Ottoman dynasty. Their effectiveness, 
however, is undeniable. 

Early conquests and the redesign of Ottoman society 

The pattern of early expansion is one indication that gaza early became 
a vital Ottoman principle, for with the sole exception of the principality 
of the Karasi, Ottoman conquests under the first three Ottoman emirs 
were generally of lands controlled by Christian states.'^ Osman seems 
to have spent most of his career working to surround and thus isolate 
Bursa, the most important Byzantine city in the region. By c. 1321, he 
had succeeded in doing so. Nevertheless, he probably never saw the fruits 
of his investment, for despite Bursa's isolation it did not fall to his son 
until c. 1326. Orhan made Bursa his capital and continued rounding 
out his territories, in the next fifteen years taking Nicaea and Uskiidar 
(just across the straits from Constantinople itself) and then the entire 
principality of Karasi. By the mid-1 340s, Orhan could claim the entire 
northwestern tier of Anatolia. 

The late 1340s was a critical period for the emerging Ottoman state. 
Not only was it now strong enough to proclaim political independence, 
but also it had to make a decision: whether to remain an Anatolian state 
(in which case it could expand only against fellow Turkoman-Islamic 
states), or cross over into Europe. At first glance, the espousal of a gazi 

'^ Peirce, Imperial harem, deals with this progression brilUantly. 

'^ Nevertheless, the Karasi exception could be generalized into an Ottoman readiness to 
attack other Islamic states. On how the Turkic idea of "raider" {akinci) may gradually 
have shifted into the Islamic idea of "holy warrior" {gazi), see Imber, "Ideals and legit- 
imation," pp. 140-41. 

42 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

ideology seems to have foreclosed any decision to turn on other Islamic 
states. Nevertheless, if it is accurate to suppose that the Ottomans were 
recent and still heterodox converts, they must have been as capable as 
were so many of their followers of identity switching, especially from one 
monotheistic faith to another. After all, not only were the inhabitants of 
their territory overwhelmingly Christian, but so also were many of their 
warriors and members of their households. 

Furthermore, the style of Islam to which the early Ottomans were 
exposed was hardly conventional, at least in the sense that the mature 
Ottoman state would have defined it.'^ It is likely that Sufis first exposed 
the Ottomans and other Turkic groups to the religion. These were 
heterodox proselytizers who were able to communicate the basics of 
Islam in familiar if unauthoritative terms. For example, Shaykh Edebali, 
who may have been Osman's spiritual advisor and whose daughter - 
according to legend — he married, probably was a dervish disciple of a 
certain Baba Ilyas, a Turkoman rebel against Seljuk authority. In his 
doctrine, Baba Ilyas seems to have combined shamanistic with Islamic 
beliefs in a manner that most traditionally trained Islamic scholars would 
have deemed heretical but that found great appeal among Turkomans. 
This is not to say that the early Ottomans did not consider themselves 
"good" Muslims, that they were not strong, even devoted, believers in 
Islam and gaza, but only that no overarching political and religious in- 
frastructure existed to define exactly what Islam was and how one might 
deviate from it. In other words, there was no one in a position of authority 
who could ostracize or "excommunicate" the heretic and thereby exclude 
him or her from society. The practical incentive to become and remain 
Muslim in that milieu was not social but political and military. It provided 
legitimacy for the formation of states and justification for marauding and 
other belligerencies. 

The Ottoman state did not collapse in the mid fourteenth century; nor 
did it become integrated into larger states. Instead, it joined other emirates 
in sending armed forces into Europe at the behest of Byzantine factions 
eager for aid in the civil wars that distinguished imperial politics in that 
period. John IV Cantacuzenus appealed to Orhan, who in 1346 came 
to his assistance against John V Paleologues (who himself had appealed 
to the rival Karasi emirate for support). Then, in 1352 the Byzantine 
emperor gave Orhan the fortress of Tzympe, on the European side of 
the Dardanelles, and two years later his son Siileyman occupied the town 
of Gallipoli. With the establishment of this foothold, a radical change 

'' On which, see Kafadar, Between two worlds, pp. 74-77, and Karamustafa, God's unruly 

Fabricating the Ottoman state 


6 The conical hat and earthy and tattered clothing mark this man as a 
member of a socially deviant religious order. In a distinctly un-Islamic 
ritual, he seems to be reading the palm of the person on the right. 
Nicolay, Le navigationi et viaggi nella Turchia, p. 207. 

Fabricating the Ottoman state 45 

in ideology or religion became unthinkable. The prestige of being the 
first Islamic state since the first century after Muhammed to carry the 
war against the infidel into Europe secured the place of the House of 
Osman as the pre-eminent emirate. Ottoman achievements drew a flood 
of supporters, both Muslim and Christian, to its banner. 

In the next half-century, Orhan's son and grandson, Murad and 
Bayezid, probably employed the idea of gaza more explicitly to press 
further into Europe. In 1361, Edirne (Adrianople) fell, to be followed by 
Filibe in 1363, which put all of Thrace under Ottoman rule. Murad spent 
much of the rest of his reign, which ended on the fields of Kosovo in 1389, 
in a three-pronged push up the Black Sea coast, up through Bulgaria 
into Serbia, and westward as far as Salonika. Ottoman territories also 
expanded in Anatolia, despite the fact that the gaza ideology may have 
made it tricky to justify aggression against other Islamic states. Murad at 
first acted diplomatically, by marrying his son Bayezid into the House of 
Germiyan and even buying some territories. In the end, however, he 
resorted to war, using Christian troops to defeat the Karamans before 
wheeling back toward Europe in 1389 to confront the crusading armies 
led by King Lazar of Serbia. Bayezid thus inherited a principality that en- 
compassed virtually all of southeast Europe as well as western Anatolia. 

The Ottoman state in 1389 may have been large, but it also was 
fragile. In Europe, not only did opposition remain in Macedonia, Con- 
stantinople, and elsewhere, but King Sigismund of Hungary also resisted 
Ottoman advances. In Anatolia, resentment against Ottoman aggression 
festered, and Bayezid was forced repeatedly to lead armies against rebel- 
lions and attacks on both fronts (hence his nickname "Thunderbolt"). 
Ottoman successes of course both attracted supporters and stirred rivals. 
The state not only had to contend with crusading armies, but also with 
a resurging threat from the east under the leadership of Tamerlane. It 
was his forces that near Ankara in 1402 defeated Bayezid's army, and 
he who captured, publicly humiliated, and executed the sultan, and dis- 
mantled the Ottoman state, sending it into an eleven-year interregnum 

Creative social, political, and military adjustments had accompanied 
this rapid Ottoman expansion, cut short so humiliatingly in 1402. The 
principal catalyst for many of the social changes was demographic, for 
the society that the Ottomans fashioned and had to organize was over- 
whelmingly Christian, even though, especially in Anatolia, conversion 
and migration over time eroded the Christian majority.^" This conquering 

^^ On this process, the classic study is Speros Vryonis, The decline of medieval hellenism in 
Asia Minor and the process of Islamization from the eleventh through the fifteenth century 
(Berkeley, 1971). 

46 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

Islamic state, then, had a principally Christian subject population, to 
which it accommodated itself in various ways. Meanwhile, a predictable 
Ottoman consolidation of power against the state's notable supporters 
stimulated rebellions by displaced military and political groups, which in 
turn inspired the authorities to create countervailing military and political 

One immediate problem was of politically and socially integrating peo- 
ples accustomed to a Christian government and fearful of both Islam 
and the central-Asian warriors who were carrying it into Europe. ^^ Such 
hurdles were less forbidding than they may seem today, for most of the 
regimes that the Ottomans displaced were essentially illegitimate and 
many were reviled. Not only had the Fourth Crusade of 1204 installed 
Latin and thus heretical lords in many of these Greek Orthodox lands, 
but also these rulers exploited their subjects through high taxes and oner- 
ous personal services (including the infamous corvee, by which the lord 
weekly demanded several days of personal service from his serfs). Such 
exploitation came even at the hands of the rulers of Byzantium who may 
have shared the faith of most of their subjects but whose desperate plight 
gave them little choice but to compromise with the Latins and heavily tax 
their peoples. 

As a frontier principality with long experience of Byzantine conditions, 
the Ottomans understood how to exploit such instability. The justification 
for Ottoman conquest may have been religious - that is, the absorption of 
the "abode of war" {dar al-harb) into the "abode of Islam" {dar al-Islam) - 
but the techniques and resultant society were distinctly political. First of 
all, principalities were not always conquered directly. Instead, local Latin 
and Greek lords sometimes bought military aid (as John IV Cantacuzenus 
had done in the 1450s), or paid for titular self-rule through tributes. 
The Ottomans justified such arrangements through the concept of the 
"abode of the covenant" (dar al-ahd ), a kind of halfway house into the 
Islamic world, and polities occasionally were able to stave off conquest 
for quite some time. Dubrovnik, Wallachia, and Chios long retained their 
autonomy by paying such tributes. Nevertheless, such measures generally 
were only a first step, to be followed by imperial sons being held in the 
Ottoman capital, ever-increasing tribute, and the forced contribution of 
troops to Ottoman campaigns. 

The resentment of Greek Orthodox Christian subjects against exist- 
ing Catholic regimes helped the Ottomans, under whose government 
non-Muslims prospered. It is true that, in accordance with Islamic law, 

^' On patterns of conquest, see Inalcik, "Ottoman methods of conquest" and, for a specific 
if much later case, his "Ottoman policy and administration in Cyprus after the conquest," 
reprinted in Inalcik, The Ottoman Empire: conquest, organization and economy (London, 
1978), pp. 1 12-22 and article 8, respectively. 

Fabricating the Ottoman state 47 

both Christians and Jews were liable to a special head tax (cizye). Never- 
theless, not only did a steep reduction in tithes and the abolition of the 
corvee more than offset this imposition, but also a particularly moderate 
reading of Islamic principles ameliorated even such religiously obligatory 
levies, which at first often were collected from communities as an under- 
valued lump sum (maktu'). Furthermore, payment of these dues ensured 
religious, cultural, and even a certain political autonomy. In other words, 
the Ottomans chose not to embrace the insularity of the Catholic and 
the Greek Orthodox worlds. Instead, they drew upon the egalitarianism 
and inclusive traditions of Central Asia and the relative tolerance of Islam 
to construct a society in which non-Muslim monotheists could live and 
work in relative freedom. Oppressed inhabitants of exclusionary Christian 
states found such an alternative enormously attractive. 

Of course, not all Ottoman subjects approved of their government's 
centralizing and accommodating strategies. Many Turkomans, for exam- 
ple, not only resented the loss of status that accompanied the trappings 
of monarchy, but also disapproved of the state's drift toward Sunni or- 
thodoxy. Whether because of loss of power, or because of heterodoxy, 
or because of exposure to Shi'ism, chronic rebellion plagued the eastern 
Ottoman frontiers in the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Although 
never able to resolve this difficulty, the state did manage to ameliorate it 
by resettling tribesmen in Ottoman Europe (siirgiin). Not only did this 
policy remove a fractious people from its natural environment, but it also 
injected an effective military force into the frontier marches and helped 
establish Islam in the overwhelmingly Christian Balkans. Ironically, then, 
at the very time that the Catholic reconquest of Iberia was removing Islam 
as an element in the making of southwestern Europe, the Ottomans in- 
troduced it in the southeast. 

Tribal chiefs with whom the Ottomans had shared power in their early 
days also lost influence during this process of consolidation, and as lead- 
ing warriors their discontent was a serious threat. Bayezid, for example, 
confronted such malcontents twice: in 1391—92, he defeated an assem- 
blage by recruiting Christian troops; in 1402, they helped defeat him 
through the agency of Tamerlane. Bayezid's experiences suggest that, if 
the Ottomans wanted to construct a stable Islamic state, the recruitment 
of non-Muslims or the hiring of mercenaries could only be stopgaps. The 
regime's long-term solution was to create a new army (the janissaries) as 
a countervailing force to the Turkoman cavalry. 

According to Ottoman tradition, it was Murad I who, with the help 
of a certain scholar named Kara Riistem from Karaman, established the 
corps. As ruler and in accordance with Islamic law, he not only began 
collecting a tax upon prisoners, but also claimed one out of every five 
of them. Not only did the state collect these "young men," but they 


The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

8 Another whimsical depiction of an Ottoman sultan; this fuming and 
stern warrior is meant to be Murad I. Lonicer, Chronicorum turcicorum, 
vol. I (in one binding), p. 11 . 

then gave them "to the Turks in the provinces so that they should learn 
Turkish . . . After a few years they brought them to the Porte and made 
them janissaries, giving them the name yeni feri [new troops]."^^ We need 
not take at face value this explanation of the invention of the janissary 

F. Giese (ed.), Tevarih-i Al-i Osman (Die altosmanischen anonymen Chroniken) (Breslau, 
1922), as quoted in Lewis (ed.), Politics and war, pp. 226-27. 

Fabricating the Ottoman state 49 

corps. Nevertheless, implicit in it is the logical proposal that the idea 
for it came from the Islamic heartland, where slave armies were long 
established, and that the Ottomans creatively modified it. The end prod- 
uct was an army (and eventually a government as well) that was owned 
by the ruler, that was exclusively composed of converts to Islam, that 
was recruited not only from captives but also from human tithes against 
Christian populations in the Ottoman Balkans, and whose troops were 
educated into a particularly Ottoman high culture. ^^ 

Fashioning a new civilization 

However responsible Murad may have been for its shape, it is certain that 
the janissary corps was decisive in the reinvention of the Ottoman state 
after the Interregnum of 1402-13. After defeating Bayezid, Tamerlane 
did not consume his territories. Instead, he reconstituted the Anatolia 
emirates that Murad and Bayezid had destroyed and left the Ottomans 
in control of those lands they had conquered from the Byzantines. In 
the end, then, the first decade of the fifteenth century became more an 
extended civil war between Bayezid's sons and a few other pretenders 
than a true interregnum. The recovery came about in part because the 
approach toward imperial succession that the Ottomans had shaped over 
the previous century meant that each of these potential heirs was compe- 
tent and determined. Equally important was that a geographic heartland 
remained in Europe, and that an administrative and military infrastruc- 
ture existed. The Ottoman land-tenure system gave cavalrymen land in 
return for service (the timar system) and a janissary corps gave the state 
a superlative armed force. 

The monarchy's awareness of the value of these new institutions helped 
distinguish the empire that re-emerged after 1413 from its previous incar- 
nation. During the next fifty years, the land-tenure system was expanded 
and standardized, both Christian and Muslim lords were rewarded for 
service with large grants of land, the religious identities within Ottoman 
society were institutionalized, the process of moving Turkomans from 
Anatolia to the Balkans was accelerated, orthodox Sunnism was more 
and more embraced as the ruling ideology of the state, and the janis- 
sary corps was acknowledged as the backbone of the Ottoman army. 
These innovations, which in many ways were a consequence of living 
on the western-Anatolian frontier, helped consolidate the Ottoman state 
even as it stabilized and made more orthodox Ottoman society. They 

^^ One of the only sustained sources we have on the janissaries is Konstantin Mihailovich, 

Memoirs oj a janissary (Ann Arbor, 1975). 

50 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

also allowed the empire more smoothly to absorb both succession dis- 
putes and the civilizational shifts that accompanied the conquest of Con- 
stantinople (1453) and the integration of vast Arab lands into the empire 

The restoration did not come easily. Mehmed I spent most of his reign 
battling brothers, pretenders, and rival states, and his son Murad II de- 
voted his first years to fending off his uncle, his brother, and various 
Balkan and Anatolian states and former rulers eager to dismantle his 
principality. Both rulers became aware that their survival depended upon 
specifically Ottoman institutions, especially the cavalry whose prestige 
depended upon Ottoman control of their landholdings, and the bu- 
reaucrats and army whom the imperial family owned. These institu- 
tions granted the Ottomans a decisive advantage over their rivals, and 
by the time Mehmed II came to the throne (for the second time) in 
1451, the janissaries constituted the mainstay of the army and the timariot 
was the principal organizing institution of Ottoman lands. ^* 

Even though the "classical age" in Ottoman history is said to have 
begun under Mehmed II, who conquered Constantinople, it was under 
his father that many of that period's most momentous battles were won 
and its most vital institutions perfected. When Murad II came to the 
throne in 1421, he was faced first with an uncle, Mustafa, who, upon his 
release from Byzantine captivity, proceeded to lead an army of frontier 
beys against the new sultanj then, he confronted a brother (again named 
Mustafa) who rose against him at the instigation of western-Anatolian 
principalities. Having defeated these rivals, Murad spent much of the 
next twenty years in a series of campaigns against the Venetians that 
ended with the Ottoman reconquest of Salonika in 1430, and against 
the Hungarians under John Hunyadi, who successfully opposed Murad 
in the early 1440s. In 1444, the Ottoman sultan, apparently exhausted 
after twenty years of almost constant warfare, signed treaties with his 
rivals in both Anatolia and Europe, and handed the monarchy over to his 
twelve-year-old son Mehmed. 

By abdicating, which was unprecedented, Murad perhaps hoped not 
only to be left with time to write and meditate, but also to avoid the bloody 
conflicts that had accompanied the deaths of earlier sultans and to estab- 
lish a pattern of peaceful succession. These objectives were thwarted, 
however, by the immediate rise of several enemies, the most threaten- 
ing of which was a coalition of European powers — Hungary, Wallachia, 
and Venice — that the Ottomans defeated only by recalling Murad, who 
smashed a crusading army at Varna in November 1444. Mehmed II ruled 

^'' These and other institutions of the mature Ottoman state are discussed more fully in 
chapter 3 below. 

Fabricating the Ottoman state 5 1 

for two more years, until in 1446 a janissary revolt again brought Murad II 
out of retirement, and he remained in power until his death in 1451. 

Murad's recurrent conflicts accelerated existing tendencies in the de- 
velopment of the Ottoman military and bureaucracy. Not only did he 
expand the janissary corps, but he also built a navy with which to con- 
front Venetian sea power in the Aegean and Black seas. It also was un- 
der Murad II that the Ottomans adopted gunpowder, both arming their 
infantry with muskets and employing large cannon in sieges. Accompa- 
nying and making possible these innovations were economic growth that 
increased income and led to an expansion of the Ottoman bureaucracy 
and ruling class. Consequently, when Mehmed II assumed the throne for 
the second time in 1451, the extent of his kingdom - stretching from the 
Danube to central Anatolia — and his resources far surpassed those of his 

A maturing sense of self accompanied the physical expansion of the 
Ottoman realm. The civilizations of Central Asia, Persia, Arabia, Islam, 
and Byzantium all had helped fashion the empire's ruling class; their 
blending generated a mores that has been termed Ottoman. It was dis- 
tinguished by a language that was grammatically Turkic but enriched 
with sophisticated Persian and Arabic poetic and narrative traditions and 
vocabularies, and was restricted to a small ruling elite in Istanbul and in 
other principal Ottoman cities. This privileged class had no basis in eth- 
nicity, race, or religion. Its members included individuals of Arab, Greek, 
Italian, Jewish, Slavic, sub-Saharan African, Turkish, and myriad other 
extractions. The manner in which it carefully distinguished itself from 
all over whom it ruled — Muslims as well as Christians and Jews - was 
through the expression of a fastidious and urbane culture. 

Creating an imperial center: the winning 
of Constantinople 

The new sultan, however, had no shortage of problems in 1451. A pre- 
tender to the throne - Orhan - lived ensconced and menacing in the 
"Turkish" quarter of Constantinople. Even worse, (^andarli Halil, the 
high Ottoman official whom Mehmed held responsible for recalling his 
father in 1444 and staging the janissary revolt that had deposed him in 
1446, five years later remained in power as grand vizier, as representative 
of powerful frontier lords and the religious elite (ulema), and as the prin- 
cipal advocate for peace with the Byzantines and other European powers. 
For Mehmed, it seems, Halil was also a reminder of his shameful depo- 
sition and the almost universal perception that he would be an ineffec- 
tive and unthreatening ruler. The opportunity simultaneously to remove 

52 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

the danger of Orhan, to show himself an effective and devout comman- 
der, and to bring down a powerful and intimidating Ottoman statesman 
(as well as the pseudo-aristocracy that he represented) decided Mehmed 
finally to realize for Islam the conquest of Constantinople. 

The story of Byzantium's fall has been told many times, ^^ for it, more 
than any other event in Ottoman history, was also a major episode in 
European history. Indeed, it is even considered by many a pivotal event, 
as the moment when the medieval European world ended and the mod- 
ern one began. There is a certain irony in this assessment. First, the city 
had been taken and pillaged before, by the Fourth Crusaders in 1204, 
when the blind Venetian doge Dandolo led a zealous and brutal army 
against it. It was then and not in 1453 that most of the artwork and 
wealth of Constantinople vanished - into Venetian and other palaces and 
public buildings - and that most cultural artifacts were destroyed; it was 
in 1204 and not in 1453 that the Great Library was destroyed. Second, 
little of the fabulous wealth for which Byzantium was known remained 
in 1453. Not only had the city already been ransacked two and a half 
centuries earlier, but also the Byzantines had never regained a hinterland 
that could have financed a significant renaissance. Latin and Turkic lords 
held most Byzantine lands, and those that remained were swallowed up 
by the Ottomans during the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries. The 
fact that there were only some 8,500 men to defend the city against an 
Ottoman army of some 50,000 reveals not only the self-sacrificing futil- 
ity of the effort, but also how inconsequential the Byzantine entity had 
become. In other words, Constantinople was significant to Christendom 
mainly as an emblematic bulwark against Islam and various hordes - 
whether Mongol or Turkic. The immediate consequences of its fall were 
symbolic. Its practical significance lay in the future rather than in the 
present, for control of the city was eventually to bring the Ottoman dy- 
nasty enormous wealth, prestige, and power. 

Although Mehmed II certainly was aware of the symbolic centrality 
of the city for Europe, his motivation for its conquest was as much do- 
mestic as international. Factionalism divided his administration. On one 
hand, a "peace party," represented by ^andarli Halil and other ulema 
officials and inherited by Mehmed from his father, advised caution and 
consolidation; on the other, a "war party" led by the sultan's warrior- 
tutor Zaganos, advocated conflict. Mehmed's intimacy with his tutor as 

^' For the Byzantine perspective, the best study is Steven Runciman, The jail of Constan- 
tinople, 1 453 (Cambridge, 1991). For Ottoman policies toward the city immediately after 
the conquest, see Halil Inalcik, "The policy of Mehmed II toward the Greek population 
of Istanbul and the Byzantine buildings of the city," Dumbarton Oaks Papers 23(1970): 

Fabricating the Ottoman state 








[Cnv^rtrd Bazuui) ^^Hagill Solid 


jBfl 0* Mfifmar^ 



Map 3 

well as his bitterness against the man who had engineered his ousting in 
1446 must have influenced his decision to act aggressively. Nevertheless, 
the attack upon the grand but weakened city also made political and ideo- 
logical sense, especially for a sultan who was almost universally perceived 
as indecisive and ineffective. 

The young sultan's principal threat came not from the Byzantines 
themselves, but from potential allies, and especially the Genoese and 
Venetians whose powerful navies could relieve the siege by sea. So, his 
first move was to build a castle just across the Bosphorus Straits from 
Anadoluhisar, which his great-grandfather Bayezid had constructed half 
a century before. Within a year after his succession, Rumelihisar had been 

54 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

completed, and cannons placed in the two fortresses effectively sealed 
the sea passage from the Black Sea. This maneuver diminished the likeli- 
hood of reinforcements; moreover, the declared neutrality of the Genoese 
colony in Galata, the capacity to shift a fleet over land and launch it into 
the Golden Horn, the casting and deployment of massive cannon against 
the city's land walls, the doggedness especially of the janissary corps, and 
a dispirited sense of inescapability among the defenders — heightened 
perhaps by the preference of a large segment of the city's Greek pop- 
ulation for Ottoman over Latin government — secured Constantinople 
for the Ottomans in May 1453 after a 54-day siege. With news arriving 
that same month that Venetian and Hungarian troops were on their way, 
the defenders probably never learned how nearly the Ottomans, fearing 
an attack from their rear, came to raising the siege just before the final 

As the city had been taken by assault, Mehmed was legally obliged to 
let his troops seize Constantinople's goods and enslave its inhabitants, 
and a good deal of plundering occurred. Nevertheless, perhaps because 
the population of the city was already destitute and many of its districts 
virtually abandoned, the scale of destruction paled in comparison to the 
sack of 1204. Furthermore, Mehmed II intended to turn this city into 
his capital and did not want to inherit an empty husk. Consequently, he 
limited the plundering to one day, protected several important structures 
from it (including the great church Hagia Sofia, which he consecrated as 
a mosque), and immediately proclaimed the city his new capital. ^^ 

With the capture of Constantinople the Ottoman Empire gained a hub. 
Ideologically, the monarchy now considered itself a great conquering 
Islamic dynasty that by reducing Byzantium inherited also the legacy 
of Rome. Militarily, the city's formidable defenses at the center of an 
enormous territory granted the state a sense of security and a launch- 
ing point for further conquests. Economically, the new capital's control 
of extensive hinterlands in the Balkans and western Anatolia, as well as 
seaborne access to the goods of the known world, would turn it into a 
principal financial and commercial gathering place and bring great wealth 
to its inhabitants and the imperial treasury. Socially, the city's depopu- 
lated state in 1453 provided an opportunity for the Ottomans to re-form 
it in their image, and, at first by force and then by preference, Armenian, 
Greek, Jewish, foreign, and Muslim Turkish settlers soon had constructed 
a polylingual, polyethnic, and polyreligious metropolis that existed and 
thrived in striking contrast to non-Ottoman cities in the Mediterranean 
and European worlds. 

^^ See inalcik, "Policy of Mehmed II." 

Kubad in Istanbul 

Be damned, O Emperor, be thrice damned 

For the evil you have done and the evil you do. 

You catch and shackle the old and the archpriests 

In order to take the children as Janissaries. 

Their parents weep and their sisters and brothers too 

And I cry until it pains me; 

As long as I hve I shall cry. 

For last year it was my son and this year my brother.' 

The 5avu§ Kubad, journeying from Istanbul to the most Christian Serenissima 
as a representative of his sultan, felt uneasy. His visit to Christendom seemed 
an eerie adventure, but he was unsure why. It was not dread of the infidel creed. 
Some of his closest acquaintances had been claimed by the dev§irme.- snatched 
from their Christian towns and villages in the Ottoman Balkans, declared His 
Most Imperial Majesty's personal property, persuaded as boys to convert to 
Islam, and trained to become Ottoman soldiers and bureaucrats. Indeed, such 
had been the career path of his own grand vizier, Sokollu Mehmed Pasha, 
who had grown up a Christian on the Ottoman borderlands of Bosnia, been 
"tithed" into imperial service and converted, worked his way brilliantly up the 
administrative ladder in the imperial palace, served as the recently deceased 
Siileyman's last grand vizier, became also an imperial grandson-in-law by 
marrying Ismihan sultan, that padishah's favorite granddaughter, and now, as 
both grand vizier and son-in-law to the new Sultan Selim II, was arguably the 
most influential person in the entire realm. Rumor had it that Mehmed Pasha 
maintained personal and financial ties with his Bosnian-Christian relatives, 
and even had established a religious endowment in his home town; Kubad, 

' As quoted in Apostolos E. Vakalopoulos, The Greek nation, 1453—1669: the cultural and 
economic background of modern Greek Society, trans. Ian Moles and Pharia Moles (New 
Brunswick, NJ, 1976), p. 37. 

^ On career paths and identity, see I. Metin Kunt, "Ethnic-regional {cins) solidarity in the 
seventeenth-century Ottoman establishment," International Journal of Middle East Studies 
5(1974): 233-39; and Cornell H. Fleischer, Bureaucrat and intellectual in the Ottoman 
Empire: the historian Mustafa Ali (1541-1600) (Princeton, NJ, 1986). On sons-in-law in 
the imperial household, see Peirce, Imperial harem. 


56 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

along with countless others, certainly had beheld him attend and pray at the 
Grand Patriarch 's church in the Greek quarter ofFener (Phanar) whenever his 
illustrious brother, himself a patriarch in Bosnia, visited the Sublime Capital. 

Kubad's own tale differed little from his vizier's (even though he had been 
born a Muslim), having been yanked from beyond the eastern borders of the 
Empire. He was of Circassian descent, and had been named after the river that 
flows through his Caucasian homeland. Although his professional achievements 
certainly could not match Mehmed Pasha's, the envoy was proud to be a senior 
courier, responsible not only for protecting His Imperial Majesty during public 
functions, but also for bearing imperial decrees to the furthest corners of the 
Empire and beyond and seeing that they were entirely fulfilled. 

So it was not distant travel that the envoy found disconcerting. Nor was it 
the close proximity to or even the sheer mass of Christians that he would find 
in Venice. He almost daily jostled, bargained, celebrated, and quarreled with 
Christian subjects on the streets of Istanbul. Such was the milieu of the multi- 
layered Ottoman capital. The urgency of trade and the diversity of citizenry in 
the teeming city easily bridged the doctrinal chasm that separated the Muslim 
envoy from the tens of thousands of Christian and Jewish subjects who lived 
and toiled there. 

In the political sphere in which Kubad labored, attachments could become 
especially close and intense. One needed merely to board a caique, savor the 
ten-minute cruise as its sturdy oarsmen whisked one across the Golden Horn 
with its spectacular views of the imperial residence, the Byzantine-built Hagia 
Sofia, the Genoese-raised Galata Tower, and Mimar Sinan's almost-completed 
contender for dominance of the Stamboul skyline — the glorious Siileymaniye 
mosque — and disembark at the pier at the bottom of Galata to plunge upward 
into a world dominated by diplomatic, commercial, and religious representatives 
from Christian Europe. 

Kubad had often undertaken that short passage to deliver imperial re- 
scripts and admonitions from the Ottoman government to Venetian, Genoese, 
Habsburg, and French envoys resident in Galata. Only months earlier he had 
accompanied the Venetian bailo, Soranzo, to the court of the kadi, the Muslim 
magistrate in charge of judicial and social matters in Galata. There he had 
helped negotiate an agreement over Venetian liability for some wares owned by 

^ On which see Eldem, "Istanbul," in Ottoman city; and Philip Mansel, Constantinople: city 
of the world's desire, 1453-1924 (New York, 1996). 

^ All of these monuments, representing almost 1,000 years of history, still stand. Hilary 
Sumner-Boyd and John Freely, Strolling through Istanbul (Istanbul, 1972) remains unsur- 
passed as a leisurely armchair tour of the city's architecture. On water-borne transport, 
see Cengiz Orhonlu, "Boat transportation in Istanbul: an historical survey," Turkish Stud- 
ies Association Bulletin 13.1(1989): 1—21. 

^ The events that follow occurred (see Arbel, Trading nations., pp. 95-168); we do not know 
whether Kubad or some other favug was involved. Except when noted, the descriptions 
of Kubad's activities are documented; his thoughts are not. 

Kubad in Istanbul 57 

the sultan and recently "misplaced" by a certain Hayyim Saruq, a Jewish mer- 
chant resident in Venice, with whom the di Seguras, an eminent Jewish family 
of Istanbul with personal and commercial alliances throughout the Mediter- 
ranean world and more vitally with the Ottoman imperial family, frequently 
exchanged. Saruq had recently declared bankruptcy and seemed unable to com- 
pensate the di Seguras for recent loans, including a supply of alum entrusted for 
sale to leather tanners on the Venetian terra firma. 

The 5avu§ had been astonished at the willingness of the Venetian representa- 
tive to put himself (and his state) in the hands of Ottoman justice, agreeing to 
be judged six months hence by this very kadi if the sultan 's alum had not yet 
been recovered. Kubad knew from long experience that the Venetians and other 
foreigners feared, however irrationally, the kadi's legal courts, and carefully 
wrote into their capitulations exemption from the Ottoman system of justice. 
Despite this fear, the bailo had allowed the registration of the affair in the kadi's 
official register fsicil) and had accepted and signed the agreement that legally 
bound him to the Shariah. The envoy could only surmise that Soranzo knew 
that the Venetian rulers would ensure that the padishah would be compensated 
for his alum before the six-month period of grace had passed. 

After these proceedings Kubad had lingered, as he so often did, to imbibe the 
beverages for which Galata was deservedly famed. He even had spent a rowdy 
and tipsy evening bouncing from tavern to tavern up the Golden Horn and into 
the environs of the Sweet Waters of Europe in the company of several subjects 
of the recently enthroned Elizabeth of England. From these exotic comrades 
he had gleaned much about the great schism within Christendom, and about 
that island's recent and bloody restoration to Protestantism. He had awakened 
the next morning at home in the old city, his head aching and pondering what 
indiscretions might have passed his lips the previous evening. 

Even while dipping into the sins of Galata, Kubad remained within the well- 
protected domains of the Ottoman padishah, the Shadow of God on earth. 
To actually enter the dar al-harbj, the lands of misbelievers who were not yet 

This dispute between two Jewish merchants is fully examined in Arbel, Trading na- 
tions, passim . On Ottoman alum production, see Marie Louise Heers, "Les Genois et le 
commerce de I'alun a la fin du moyen-age," Revue d'Histoire Economique et Sociale 
32(1954): 31—53; and Kate Fleet, European and Islamic trade in the early Ottoman state: 
the merchants of Genoa and Turkey (Cambridge, 1999), pp. 80-94. 
Inalcik, "Imtiyazat," EI. 

On the kadi's courts in Istanbul, Galata, and Uskiidar see Yvonne Seng, "The §er'iye 
sicilleri of the Istanbul miiftulugii as a source for the study of everyday life," Turkish 
Studies Association Bulletin 15.2(1991): 307—25. 

Although England did not establish formal commercial relations with the Ottoman 
Empire until the 1580s (on which see Susan A. Skilliter, William Harborne and the trade 
with Turkey, 1578—1582: a documentary study of the first Anglo-Ottojnan relations [London, 
1977]), Britons had traveled and traded in the empire for decades. They and other west- 
ern sojourners certainly conveyed valuable details to the Ottoman government about 
western Europe, sometimes through famines such as Kubad. 

58 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

sheltered under God's shade, was something altogether different. He appre- 
ciated how less common it was for Ottoman subjects, particularly Muslim 
Ottoman subjects, to visit Christian Europe than it was for Venetian and 
Habsburg Catholics to enter Ottoman domains. With a visit to Venice not 
only would he step outside the radiant protection of the most powerful realm in 
the Mediterranean world, but also he would penetrate to the mother city of one 
of the sultan's most tenacious, cunning, and implacable foes. 

'" The Ottoman monarch ordinarily portrayed himself most sensationally. Mehmed II, 
for one, ordained himself: "the Sultan of the Two Continents and the Emperor of the 
Two Seas, the Shadow of God in this world and the next, the favorite of God on the 
Two Horizons, the Monarch of the Terraqueous Orb, the Conqueror of the Castle of 
Constantinople, the Father of Conquest Sultan IVIehmed Khan . . . may God make eternal 
his empire and exalt his residence above the brightest stars of the firmament." Siileyman 
described himself even more illustriously. To leave these luminous lands (the daral-hlam, 
or Abode of Believers) was to abandon God's country for the dim and tainted world of 
misbelievers (the dar al-harb or Abode of War) . 

" The tangled Ottoman-Venetian relationship, including Cypriot affairs, is discussed in 
chapter 5 below. 

A seasoned polity 

The government of the Ottomans is completely despotic: for the 
Grand Turk is so much the master of all things contained within the 
bounds of his dominions, that the inhabitants account themselves his 
slaves, not his subjects; no man is master of himself, or of the house in 
which he lives, or of the fields he tills, except certain families of 
Constantinople whom Mohamet II has chosen and privileged; and 
there is no personage so great that he stands secure in his life or in his 
estate unless it so please the Grand Signor. He maintains such 
absolute power in two ways: by disowning his subjects and by turning 
everything over to the Renegados, whom he has taken in their 
childhood as tithes from his states.' 

In the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries the Ottoman polity was in 
the process of invention, and was thus quite malleable. Its beginnings are 
shrouded in myth and we probably never will be certain of its founda- 
tions. Nevertheless, as we have seen, the early Ottoman state did seem 
endowed with the ability to shrug off those props that appeared not to 
work, to knead out the flaws of others, and to create new formations as 
needed. This facility helped the state survive crises of succession, jealous 
rivals, civil wars, even defeat, dismemberment, and other vicissitudes of 

In the years after the reconstitution of the Ottoman state in 1413 the 
principal constructions of Ottoman government and society began to 
crystallize. By the time Mehmed II conquered Constantinople many in- 
stitutions and ways of conduct had been established. Historians have 
tagged such organizations with names such as the imperial household, 
the timar system, the kapikulu system, the janissary corps, and the gifthane 
system. Modern scholars have also sometimes joined their early modern 
Ottoman predecessors in a search for ideal manifestations of these edi- 
fices to which the empire had aspired and from which it had subsequently 
sunk. Late sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Ottoman commentators 

' Giovanni Botero, Relationi universali, as quoted in Lucette Valensi, The birth of the despot: 
Venice and the Sublime Porte, trans. Arthur Denner (Ithaca and London, 1 993), pp. 95-96. 


60 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

believed that they had discovered such quixotic models in the Siileymanic 
Golden Age, when, it was argued, these social and political structures had 
become immutably complete.^ 

Such institutions, of course, were neither comprehensive nor static by 
the sixteenth century, and a chief defect of some Ottoman historiogra- 
phy has been to imagine that they were. This act of constructing ideals, 
whether by statesmen or by historians, in fact precludes the possibility 
of envisaging progress beyond such standards. Instead, the framework 
forces one to imagine everything that followed the sixteenth century as 
deterioration, a vision that at second thought seems absurd. To reject 
such a model, however, is not to insist that important institutions did not 
reach maturity in the sixteenth century, that some were not instrumental 
in the empire's success, or that the idea of a golden age, however partial 
and flawed, has not generated a sophisticated understanding of many key 
Ottoman constructs. Several, about which we know a great deal, certainly 
had evolved in ways that helped organize and sustain the maturing polity. 

The imperial household 

The imperial household -that is, the collection of individuals who enjoyed 
personal contact, a familial, or a "possessed" relationship with the ruler - 
constitutes an important institution in any monarchy.^ In the Ottoman 
case, the household was of particular political significance because, prin- 
cipally as a result of the kapikulu organization, it was so intertwined with 
the military and bureaucracy, many of whose members served a dual 
political and personal role. However elaborate the Ottoman state be- 
came, most high Ottoman officials were servants of the sultan, who in 
fact owned them; they consequently were also, in theory at least, mem- 
bers of the imperial household. 

Such personal ties need not imply that the design of the ruler's house- 
hold remained fixed through time, or that it was moving toward or falling 
away from some Ottoman ideal. Rather, the institution bounced along a 
string of jarring changes as it adjusted to dramatic growth, to a sedentary 
existence, and to the personalities of its principals. For example, in the 
early decades of Ottoman rule the monarch married and bore children 
by the princesses of such rival realms as Byzantium and Karaman. By the 
mid fifteenth century, however, the sultans not only had grown wary of 
letting foreign influences seep into the imperial household via their wives 

^ These matters are related to the hoary issue of Ottoman periodization, on which see 
Jane Hathaway, "Problems of periodization in Ottoman history: the fifteenth through 
the eighteenth centuries," Turkish Studies Association Bulletin 20.2(1996): 25—31. 

^ Peirce, Imperial harem, is the most vital work on this institution. 

A seasoned polity 61 

and offspring but also came to believe that the royal family of no other 
state was worthy of the Ottoman ruler. Consequently, the monarchy sev- 
ered the institution of marriage from procreation and for the latter turned 
to concubinage. This seemingly unnatural disunion not only secured the 
Ottoman dynasty from outside political and religious influences, but also 
effectively prevented inbreeding. 

Probably the household's most fundamental transformation took place 
after the empire's acquisition of Constantinople. Whereas the family, ser- 
vants, and supporters of a fourteenth-century Turkoman emir such as 
Orhan or Murad followed their patron from settlement to settlement and 
even from campaign to campaign, by the early fifteenth century the core 
of the household remained behind in the Ottoman capital (then Edirne). 
After 1453 the imperial household settled in Istanbul along with other 
ruling institutions. Mehmed II moved the female members of his fam- 
ily into what later became known as the "old" palace near the center of 
the city. Here they lived in isolation and under the care of eunuchs who 
had been enslaved and castrated at sites in France, Central Asia, and 
elsewhere outside the Abode of Islam (where castration was religiously 

Mehmed II simultaneously began building a new palace - Topkapi 
Sarayi - at the confluence of the Golden Horn and the Marmara Sea. 
This edifice went up quickly, and by the end of the 1450s boasted three 
large and resplendent courtyards. Public business transpired in the first 
or outer courtyard of this palace; the sultan's high officials gathered in the 
second or middle courtyard; and young male members of his personal 
household resided, observed, and trained to govern in the third or inner 

Innovation did not end here. By inhabiting two palaces, Mehmed II 
managed to distinguish between his private and public, his female and 
male, worlds. This seclusion not only followed the practice of Islam in 
Persia and elsewhere, but also refiected the Turkoman division between 
the familial and political spheres. The ruler perhaps realized that it had 
become increasingly difficult to maintain the traditional categories as 
rapid expansion and influences from rival states transformed his society. 
The splendor of the sultan's palace may have been in emulation of Middle 
Eastern and European monarchies; the horizontal layout of his abode, 
however, reflected the customs of his nomadic forefathers. 

Under Mehmed IPs successors these spheres gradually merged, most 
dramatically under Siileyman who used the prestige of presiding over a 
mature empire to manipulate, revolutionize, even "westernize" his re- 
lations with his household. Already Mehmed II had begun settling his 
favorite wives with him in the third courtyard of the new palace. Under 




0) I— < 

1) ■* 



■d s 
I J 









A seasoned polity 63 

Bayezid II and Selim I this drift toward a physical merging of the politi- 
cal and personal spheres continued. Siileyman concluded it through the 
building of an imperial harem in Topkapi Palace, settling there all the sul- 
tan's wives, concubines, and children together with their staffs — several 
hundred individuals in all. Whereas previously the families of deceased 
sultans and lateral lines had been exiled to Edirne, now imperial widows 
and the families of the sultan's brothers lived confined behind the cold 
walls of the old palace. 

Siileyman's prestige allowed him to thoroughly undermine the rules of 
personal behavior that had evolved under his predecessors. Perhaps the 
most peculiarly Ottoman of these was the custom that separated impe- 
rial wives from imperial mothers. Whereas the first sultans had married 
for political expediency as well as procreation, around the end of the 
fourteenth century the monarch began making celibate marriages and 
restricting his sexual relations to slave concubines. The intent of this 
radical innovation probably was to sever the Ottoman state from foreign 
sympathies and protect princes from heresy. However callous such a prac- 
tice might seem, it was just such tendencies toward religious and political 
deviance, passed through the persons of foreign wives and mothers, that 
bedeviled the early modern English, French, Spanish, and other Euro- 
pean states. At about the same time the Ottomans also limited to one 
the number of male offspring each concubine could produce, and insti- 
tutionalized the practice of fratricide, through which a newly enthroned 
monarch was expected to have his brothers executed. The first of these 
practices ensured that each mother would concentrate exclusively upon 
the welfare of, and prepare for governance, her one princely son; the sec- 
ond helped secure the state against the recurrence of civil wars such as 
those that had almost brought down the realm in 1389, in 1402-13, and 
again in 1481. 

Through the person of Hiirrem (known in the west as Roxelana) — a 
slave concubine whom he fell in love with, scandalously married, and 
conceived several sons by - Siileyman dismantled this remarkable order. 
His impetuous act, however, did not restore imperial reproductive pat- 
terns to Turkoman or early Ottoman norms. In fact, Siileyman's decision 
to marry his concubine was radically innovative and helped spawn yet 
another mutation in the administration of empire. Whereas whatever au- 
thority early Ottoman imperial wives could muster derived from their 
links with non-Ottoman states as well as reproduction, the authority of 
Hiirrem and succeeding wives and imperial mothers (valide sultans) de- 
rived almost exclusively from their positions in the imperial household. 

Hiirrem herself, for example, formed alliances with the grand vizier 
and other powerful Ottoman statesmen. Such combinations carried the 

64 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

influence of women in the imperial harem far beyond the palace walls 
and made the physical isolation of imperial consorts and daughters less 
and less a reflection of their real power. The consequent factionalism 
tended also to splinter and diffuse even male power, for another new trend 
was to marry off imperial daughters to men of state who thus became 
imperial consorts (damads), and through their spouses gained entrance 
into the sultan's household. Even though the fiction of imperial author- 
ity remained throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, such 
alliances probably tended to decrease the dependence of statesmen upon 
the person of the sultan, to isolate the ruler even from his own harem, 
and especially to decrease the sultan's ability to act independently. 

Later Ottoman observers condemned such innovations in the work- 
ings of the imperial household as a principal cause for the enfeeblement 
of their state. More recently, historians have perceived them as a symptom 
rather than a direct cause of Ottoman decline. Either of these interpre- 
tations may be valid if one accepts that the only Ottoman principality 
that could thrive was one that was centralized, despotic, and aggressively 
expanding. Success, however, can be measured in other ways. In their 
diffusing of authority, these late sixteenth-century changes also removed 
power from the hands of a single man who was as likely to be inept 
as skilled. They also tended to bureaucratize governance, which helped 
shield the Ottoman state and society from the vagaries of personality, 
from a changing world trade, from the growing strength of rival states, 
and from shifting relationships within Ottoman society. 

These transformations in the private lives of the imperial family also 
considerably facilitated Ottoman integration into Europe (indeed, the 
Siileymanic innovations may have been meant to emulate other European 
dynasts), for a monarch who married and had several children by the 
same woman seemed conventional and thus comfortingly explicable 
to Venetian, French, and English diplomats. In other words, in both 
their governance and their personal behavior, the Ottoman and western 
European elites were moving closer to each other. In addition, the faction- 
alism and infighting that characterized the new system closely reflected 
royal courts in Europe. Diplomats from the subcontinent moved more 
easily into this less strange world where secrets could be bought, alliances 
made, and intrigue seemed a way of life. 

The Ottoman slave culture 

In the sixteenth century, the culture as well as the institutions of Ottoman 
governance drifted closer to European standards. The bond deepened 
despite the fact that the foundations of Ottoman society seemed so Asiatic 

A seasoned polity 65 

(Turkoman, Persianate, and Arab). A seemingly exotic type of slavery, 
so different from the chattel slaves of Europe and the Americas, is one 
example of such differences. This institution had emerged as a decisive 
component of a particular set of beliefs, behaviors, and education that 
defined membership in the Ottoman elite. What made Ottoman slavery 
seem so strange to the rest of Europe was not so much that the select of 
society owned slaves (although they certainly did) as that they themselves 
often were slaves: that is, members of the imperial family legally owned 
those very same viziers and pashas who administered the realm. 

The Ottoman elite had not always been slaves of the sultan. Indeed, as 
we have seen, under Osman, Orhan, and Murad, Turkoman companions 
to the emirs had acted as military, administrative, and religious leaders. 
Such comrades often resented and occasionally defied Ottoman rule, and 
helped produce an unstable regime. In the late fourteenth century, the 
Ottoman ruling house adapted, perhaps from the Seljuk example, the 
idea of using captured slaves as the backbone of a new army or janissary 
corps. Removed from their native cultures and presented with power 
through the person of their master the sultan, these foot soldiers acted 
domestically to neutralize the Turkoman cavalry and internationally to 
neutralize European innovations in military technology. Under Bayezid I, 
Mehmed I, Murad II, and Mehmed II, Ottoman authority rested more 
and more in the hands of the monarch himself through the power of his 
infantry troops. 

The janissary corps was only one component of the kapikulu, or "slaves 
of the Porte," which came to encompass also much of the Ottoman 
bureaucracy. After Mehmed II, most of the highest men of state, in- 
cluding almost every grand vizier from Mehmed IPs Mahmud Pasha 
(r. 1453-66) to the Kopriilii triumvirate of viziers (r. 1656-83) who served 
under Mehmed IV, were kuls. Indeed, by the reign of Mehmed IPs great- 
grandson Siileyman, not only had being a kul become a virtual prerequi- 
site to advancement, but also a new social class had emerged around the 
concept. If no Ottoman aristocracy ever issued in the style of the blood of 
European noble houses, the conceit of imperial slavery became a pecu- 
liarly analogous and equally powerful unifying factor. Blood played some 
role in this quasi-aristocracy, as the Kopriilii case suggests; however, even 
more than lineage, possession of one human being by another marked 
this elite and made it seem somewhat misleadingly exotic to Europeans. 
In other words, possession more than ethnicity, language, geography, or 
any other element identified this pseudo-aristocracy. The requirement 
that these kuls become Ottoman - that is, that they develop linguistic 
and cultural homogeneity and exclusivity - grew out of this peculiar 

66 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

10 The janissary was often depicted as daunting in European works, 
even those that do not deal directly with the Ottomans. This volume on 
costumes includes a classic portrayal, complete with moustaches, high 
conical hat, firearm, and scimitar. Vecellio, Habiti antichi, f. 386r. 

A seasoned polity 67 

The roots of this slave culture lay in the Islamic creed, and especially in 
the stricture against enslaving fellow believers. This rule combined with 
the presence of a seemingly boundless sea of pagan nomads to the north- 
east of Arab lands had led to the development of a new form of slavery. 
As the Arabs pushed into Central Asia in the eighth and ninth centuries 
under the Abbasid dynasty, they confronted, traded with, fought, and 
converted Turkic-speaking nomads. The Arab leaders also began both 
to hire these steppe people as mercenaries and to choose for training as 
soldiers and scribes the most fit and most talented of those enslaved on 
the battlefield. By the tenth century, this tendency had evolved into a sys- 
tem, the ghulam, by which non-Muslim Turks were enslaved, converted, 
and trained to become warriors and statesmen.^ Many late-medieval 
Middle Eastern dynasties adopted this procedure, most notoriously in 
Egypt where the servants toppled the rulers and established the Mamluk 
Empire, a regime of former slaves. Probably beginning with Murad in the 
late fourteenth century, the Ottomans also adopted the ghulam, using it 
to build a loyal army and administration to stand in opposition to rival 
^aarz warriors who might challenge the Ottoman house. 

The Ottomans not only took up this practice that the Seljukid and other 
Turkic dynasties had introduced into Asia Minor, but also adapted it. As 
the expansion of their empire slowed, and with it their ability to capture 
persons and thus rejuvenate their army and ruling class as a consequence 
of conquest, the state began more and more to purchase (and sometimes 
have castrated) non-Muslims along its Empire's northeastern and south- 
ern frontiers. It also initiated the more sustainable if problematic program 
of drawing from the millions of non-Muslim inhabitants of the Empire 
itself. In a process known as dev§irme, state officials went especially into 
the upcountry towns and villages of today's Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia 
and took a human "tithe" of young Christian boys to become the sultan's 

Contemporary western Europeans (and many today) counted this 
practice as one of the most heathen and non-European of Ottoman inno- 
vations. Not only did the dev§irme rip young boys away from their families 
and homelands, but it also forced upon them an exotic culture and reli- 
gion perceived as profoundly hostile to their own. They were taught to 
believe in Islam rather than Christianity, to speak Turkish rather than 
Serbo-Croatian, and to affirm a binding loyalty to the Ottoman sultan, 
their new master (and family head). For loving parents and for those 
proud of their religious, ethnic, and linguistic identities (and especially 

* On which see "Ghulam," EI; and Matthew Gordon, The breaking of a thousand swords: a 
history of the Turkish military of Samara. 200-275 AH/815-889 CE (Albany, NY, 2001). 

68 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

for the modern nationalist), the forfeiture of these young boys constituted 
a bitter defeat and shame. ^ There were, however, compensations. 

First, their sons were lifted out of provincial, impoverished, and op- 
pressed surroundings into the ruling class of arguably the most powerful 
and refined polity in the world. At worst, they would become infantrymen 
in the celebrated Ottoman legions; at best, they might become powerful 
statesmen such as the kapudanpa§a, Piyale Pasha, who began life as a 
Christian Hungarian, or the grand vizier, Sokollu Mehmed Pasha, who 
was born a Christian Bosnian. 

Second, despite the insistence of many national historiographies that 
such personal fortune was attained only through the utter obliteration 
of heritage, evidence has recently emerged that the Ottomans were not 
always so insistent that these boys discard their birthrights. Sokollu 
Mehmed Pasha was only the most prominent of those selected by the 
dev§irme who maintained contact with, protected, and even lent mon- 
etary assistance to parent, sibling, relative, and region.^ Consequently, 
these levies may not only have replenished a perpetually depleted elite, 
but also have served to bind Christian provinces to this Islamic state 
through a system of personal ties and favors. The outcome if not the 
method of this process resembled systems of provincial advocacy con- 
currently developing in southern and western Europe. Furthermore, the 
targets of these levies understood such compensations so well that some 
parents even implored and paid off officials to conscript their son rather 
than someone else's. 

During the sixteenth century, a grand vizier stood at the pinnacle of 
the quasi-aristocracy that developed out of this arrangement. It was not 
a strictly vertical hierarchy, however, for this "slave culture" became dif- 
fused across the Ottoman ruling estate and through the imperial house- 
hold. Servants, for example, had servants, most curiously and nefariously 
the eunuchs who oversaw not only the imperial household, but also the 
intimate worlds of other notables' harems. The sultan's servants also de- 
veloped political networks of their own through artifice, patronage, pay- 
offs, and matrimony. One result was the late sixteenth-century formation 
of political cliques, usually created through the union of a princess and a 
statesman and often including an imperial eunuch, whose power derived 
from his unique ability to pass easily between the sultan's private and 
public domains. 

Despite Qur'anic admonitions to treat slaves kindly and manumit them 
whenever possible, the early modern Ottomans did not forbid more 

^ The epigram that begins this chapter's vignette, damning the sultan for enslaving Greek 

children, is only one of many reflections of this attitude. 
^ For a more modest example, see Cemal Kafadar, "On the purity and corruption of the 

janissaries," Turkish Studies Association Bulletin 15.2(1991): 273-80. 

A seasoned polity 69 

powerless forms of household slavery, or even plantation slavery of the 
sort that became so notorious in the Americas during the eighteenth 
and nineteenth centuries. Most lamentable perhaps was the Ottoman ex- 
ploitation of captives for the cultivation of rice, which the imperial court 
fancied. Since there was no ideological logic that proscribed plantation- 
style slavery, the principal reason it remained secondary was geograph- 
ical and institutional: rice, cotton, and other crops appropriate for the 
intensive agriculture in which slavery tended to thrive developed only 
on a few littoral fringes of the Empire. In short, the kul system, which 
seemed so exotic to the western European mind, looked less and less 
strange with time. Indeed, within the order lay the potential for both a 
pseudo-aristocracy and a system of plantation-style slavery.^ That the first 
rather than the second of these options developed was little more than 

Religious elites 

A range of professions and social groupings existed between those kuls 
who stood at the pinnacle of early modern Ottoman society and those 
slaves who were at its bottom. Most prominent in this hierarchy were 
the religious elite - the ulema — and the cavalrymen known as sipahis 
who had inherited the privileges and obligations of those gazi warriors 
who had fought with Osman, Orhan, and Murad, the founding fathers of 
the Ottoman polity. These groups represented radically different aspects 
of Ottoman rule: broadly speaking, the ulema served to legitimize the state 
and the sipahis served to enforce its rule. Nevertheless, ideology bound the 
two elites^ they shared a commitment not only to high Ottoman culture 
but also to a belief in the Hanafi school of Islamic jurisprudence.^ 

The ulema became the chief custodians of Islam in the Ottoman 
Empire, just as they were in other Islamic states. They did not attain 
their position overnight, however. Early indigenous religious consultants 
to Ottoman emirs — men such as Shaykh Edebali, Osman's presumed 
spiritual guide, were notoriously heterodox. Those who were more or- 
thodox - such as Kara Riistem, who, or so legend proclaims, brought to 
the Ottomans from the Islamic heartland the principle oi ghulam - were 
usually outsiders. Although many educators never completely abandoned 

^ Most works on Ottoman slavery deal with the late period, on which see Y. Hakan Erdem, 
Slavery in the Ottoman empire and its demise (Oxford, 1997); and Ehud R. Toledano, 
Slavery and abolition in the Ottoman Middle East (Seattle, WA, 1998). On the earlier 
period, there is Shaun Elizabeth Marmon (ed.). Slavery in the Islamic Middle East 
(Princeton, 1999). 

^ For a short and clear discussion of Islamic law and the four accepted schools of Sunni 
jurisprudence, see Fazlur Rahman, Islam, 2nd edn (Chicago, 1979), pp. 68—84. 

70 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

their deviating roots, they did tend to become more orthodox, more lo- 
cally educated, and more powerful as Ottoman state-building proceeded. 

The religious elite received its training in schools (medreses) that typi- 
cally were parts of the complexes attached to important mosques, along 
with markets and soup kitchens. Although Orhan probably opened the 
first such Ottoman institution in Iznik (Nicaea) in 1331, the Ottoman 
state continued drawing higher ulema from the Islamic heartlands until 
well into the following century. It was only in the late fifteenth century, 
upon the establishment of Istanbul as the Ottoman capital and the con- 
sequent declaration that the Ottomans had become a world-class empire, 
that eight medreses built around Mehmed the Conqueror's mosque pro- 
vided a viable alternative to schools in Baghdad, Cairo, and elsewhere. 
From this time, the state drew even the highest ulema from these establish- 
ments and, after the mid sixteenth century, from students who graduated 
from the six medreses attached to Siileyman's grand mosque. The prepa- 
ration and abilities of these graduates rivaled those of any other academy. 

The mosques to which such medreses and lower schools were attached 
dominated and gave focus to the social life of Muslims in Ottoman cities, 
just as churches and synagogues did for Christians and Jews. One of 
Mehmed II's first moves after the conquest of Constantinople, for ex- 
ample, was to direct his principal viziers to subsidize the construction 
of mosques in various parts of the city. Residential quarters (mahalles) 
soon emerged in the vicinities of these complexes, whose upkeep, and the 
salaries of staff, were supported by endowments (evkaf) given by mem- 
bers of the imperial household (both male and female) and Ottoman 
statesmen, as well as by revenue from markets and other commercial 

There were two categories of ulema in the empire (even though there 
was considerable overlap between them): those who interpreted Islamic 
law (the muftis) and those who administered Islamic and other laws 
(the kadis). On the one hand, muftis, who presided over mosques and 
medreses, enjoyed relative independence from the government and occa- 
sionally even functioned as centers of opposition to its policies. On the 
other, kadis more and more became hierarchically ranked appointees of 
the state. At the bottom were assistant kadis (naibs), who serviced the 
Ottoman countryside and villages and seconded kadis in major towns. 
Next in rank were kadis stationed in towns and small cities; then came 
the kadis of the eight major cities in the empire. Placed at the pinnacle of 
the hierarchy were two kadiaskers, one in charge of "Rumeli" (European 
provinces) and the second in charge of "Anatolia" (Asian provinces). The 
two kadiaskers, as well as the ^eyhulislam, all sat on the sultan's imperial 

A seasoned polity 


1 1 The artist's empliasis liere is on clothing, the figure's rich outer- 
garments and fabulous headgear. The kadiasker (or kazasker) was a 
high-ranking member of the Ottoman judiciary. Vecellio, Habiti antichi, 
f. 380r. 

72 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

In a reflection of the theoretical basis of Islam, which denies the ex- 
istence of a priestly class and insists upon religious law as the basis for 
political and social laws, the ulema had less influence over the individual 
believer and more influence upon Islamic society and government than 
did their priestly counterparts in Christian lands. For example, a mufti 
not only taught Islamic jurisprudence, but also interpreted Islamic law 
(which was the law of the state). Consequently, an important religious 
figure on the one hand could enjoy an influence in society and govern- 
ment that rivaled, for instance, the U.S. Supreme Court. On the other 
hand, the Qur'an speciflcally forbade him, or anyone else, from serving as 
a spiritual conduit who could forgive sins or "save" an individual believer. 

The kadi, even more than the mufti, has no parallel in the Christian 
world. Perhaps his closest analogy would be not a priest or a clergy man, 
but a magistrate, for the kadi was an appointee of the state and presided 
over the social and judicial life of his city, town, or region. In his court he 
heard cases dealing with matters both public - loans, property, robbery, 
and murder — and private - divorce, rape, and child custody. Although 
he was expected to draw upon sultanic law and local customs in his judg- 
ments, the underpinning of his decisions had always to be Islamic law - 
the Shariah. As a functionary of the state, the kadi was also expected to 
forward petitions to Istanbul and act upon imperial responses and other 

Theoretically at least, anyone, subject or foreign, could petition a kadi, 
who often dealt with such claims in his own court. In certain instances, 
however, the petitioner asked that the complaint be forwarded to the 
imperial government, or even traveled to Istanbul in person in order to 
register a complaint with the divan. In such cases, an Ottoman offlcial 
known as a gavu§ often carried and was authorized to help implement the 
imperial decision. His ability to do so both helped deflne and impose the 
authority and power of the central state, and circumscribed the authority 
and power of the kadi. 

In short, the kadi's decisionmaking powers depended upon his person- 
ality and his posting as much as upon his training. On the one hand, the 
proximity of the imperial government and foreign ambassadors tended 
to curtail the authority of the kadi in districts of Istanbul like Fatih or 
Galata, even as their presence increased his implicit power. On the other, 
distance from the imperial core lent kadis in towns such as Aleppo or 
Temesvar increased authority as a representative of the state even as re- 
gional political and commercial networks, local customs, and the pres- 
ence of powerful Ottoman military commanders weakened his power. 
Wherever his appointment, however, the kadi was expected not only to 
implement Islamic law but also to represent the Ottoman state and its 
supplemental laws (kanun). 

A seasoned polity 73 

The Ottoman government granted primacy to Islamic law. Never- 
theless, the Shariah was not the only structure of adjudication in the 
empire. Ottoman Armenian, Greek Orthodox, and Jewish communi- 
ties all established courts that judged their peoples according to their 
own religious laws, and Genoese, Venetian, Dutch, English, and French 
residents also founded self-governing courts in the major trading cities 
of the empire. The hearings of all cross-communal cases in the kadi's 
court, however, signified the privileges of this judicial system over all 
others. Paradoxically this prerogative in fact probably helped sustain 
communal autonomy, for patriarchic, rabbinic, and foreign records all 
urgently repeat warnings against commercial and personal dealings with 
Muslims, for fear of loss of control through lawsuits in the kadi's 

Even within the Muslim population, however, muftis and kadis did not 
constitute the exclusive religious authority in the Ottoman world. It is 
true that the conquest of most Arab lands in 1516-17 compelled the 
Ottoman state to exhibit itself as the protector of orthodoxy. Neverthe- 
less, the heterodoxy that had constituted the ideological mainstay of early 
Ottoman expansion did not die when it became a world empire. Indeed, 
by embracing the Hanafi school - the most accommodating of the four 
schools of Islamic law - and drawing upon all four in its law-making, the 
state exhibited maximum flexibility within the limits of Islamic tradition, 
thereby helping to placate its disparate population of Christians, Jews, 
and followers of different schools within Sunni Islam. Furthermore, by 
institutionalizing various systems of sufism (Islamic mysticism) within its 
urban economies and military organizations, the state essentially sanc- 
tioned nonconformity. 

The latitudinarianism of Ottoman state policy derived largely from 
the religious and cultural syncretism that had characterized Anatolian 
marches during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. During these for- 
mative years, spiritual as well as profane leaders, warriors, and wander- 
ers found their way to the Anatolian frontiers. Some of these holy men 
became spiritual intimates of Ottoman emirs and other frontier lords. 
Others organized themselves into sufi orders (tarikahs), or wandered as 
vagabonds and exemplars of pious behavior.^ 

Such dervish orders, spawned by the chaos of cultural and physical 
frontiers that accompanied the waves of Turkoman migrations, existed in 
bewildering variety. According to the Spanish traveler Ruy Gonzales de 
Clavijo, for example, the followers of a certain Barak Baba "shave their 
beards and their heads and go almost naked. They pass through the street. 

See Mehmed Fuad Kopriilii, Islam in Anatolia after the Turkish invasion (prolegomena) ^ 
trans., ed., intro. GaryLeiser (Salt Lake City, 1993), pp. 25-31. 

74 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

whether in the cold or in the heat, eating as they go, and all the clothing 
they wear is bits of rag of the torn stuff that they can pick up. As they 
walk along night and day with their tambourines they chant hymns."'" 
These disciples of Barak Baba represented an important strand within the 
Islamic world. Such fraternities could represent spiritual retreat, spiritual 
rebellion, personal strivings to be one with God, or exceptional sensibility 
to political and social injustices. Such followers of Barak Baba were only 
one of countless such organizations, often called collectively the Abdals 
of Rum, who formed an extensive Ottoman network of deviant Sufis. 

Mysticism developed in different ways in the Ottoman world. Some 
Sufi orders withered away as frontiers hardened and opportunities for 
syncretism diminished. Others flourished under the new regime. One 
case was the Abdals, who never fully abandoned their deviance, as de- 
fined by societal norms and Islamic orthodoxy. Another case concerned 
those who followed the teachings of Haci Bekta§ Veli. This Bekta§i 
order came late, perhaps not before the late fifteenth century, as a rela- 
tively minor popular religious order. It both quickly became institution- 
alized (that is, mainstreamed) within the Ottoman system and sometimes 
served as a focus for opposition to it. Its initial popularity may have been 
among Turkoman tribesmen; however, it seems to have been influenced 
by the frontier ideologies that arose during the Ottoman conquests in the 
Balkans and to have appropriated much of the syncretism of that ever- 
mutating borderlands. Whether because the frontier naturally produced 
religious plasticity or because so many members of the janissary corps 
hailed from the Christian Balkans through the dev§irme, by the sixteenth 
century, and perhaps much earlier, the janissary corps had embraced the 
Bekta|i order as its offlcial tarikah, an association that persisted for over 
three centuries. Much as, in the nineteenth-century Jewish community 
of eastern Europe, the opposition of the unorthodox hasidim to the en- 
lightened maskalim helped others to perceive the hasidic Jew more and 
more as mainstream rather than deviant, so did the Bekta§i-janissary al- 
liance encourage the order simultaneously to retain much of its aberrant 
ideology and to become doctrinally conventional. 

Such institutionalization of nonconformism in some ways paralleled 
the establishment and ordering of mendicant orders (Franciscans and 
Dominicans) in Catholic Europe.'' Whereas the mendicants remained 

Quoted in Karamustafa, God's unruly friends^ p. 8. 

On which see Karamustafa, God 's unruly friends, especially p. 1 1 . A closer parallel might 
be with Jewish mysticism (Kabbalah), which through its Lurianic form in the seventeenth 
century almost brought down orthodoxy through Sabbatarianism, a potent theosophical 
movement (on which, see chapter 4 below), and by the late eighteenth century had been 
fully integrated into the Jewish world through Hasidism. 

A seasoned polity 75 

separated from the larger society by particular rules, celibacy, and 
monasticism, however, Ottoman orders became fully integrated. Not 
only did most sultans have Sufi connections, not only could a janissary 
also become a Bekta§i, but other military, economic, and social groups 
also joined and organized themselves around various religious orders. 
Thus did myriad unofficial religious communities develop in the 
Ottoman world, and occasionally became centers of opposition to 
the Ottoman state and its policies, as happened in 1416 when the Shaykh 
Bedreddin used his erudition, charisma, and a particularly expansive 
reading of Islam to gather a wide range of disgruntled Ottoman sub- 
jects into a massive rebellion against Mehmed I's fragile regime. More 
often, however, such religious versatility - often through orders such as 
the Nak§ibendi and the Mevlevis - helped the state to defeat its rivals, to 
integrate diverse peoples, and to provide Ottoman society with religious 
and social resiliency and adaptability. 

As the empire expanded first into southeastern Europe and subse- 
quently into eastern Anatolia and the Arab lands, then, it incorporated 
a diversity of peoples, cultures, and legal traditions. Faced with such va- 
riety and wanting to integrate regions into the empire as smoothly as 
possible, the state chose not to impose a uniform and rigid legal system 
upon its territories. Instead, by compiling a series of provincial lawbooks 
(kanunname) that incorporated many local customs and statutes, in the 
fifteenth century the government used the concept of sultanic law to con- 
struct a flexible system of jurisprudence at the local level. In other words, 
"custom, modified through administrative practice and Sultanic decree" 
rather than strict adherence to a particular school of Islamic jurispru- 
dence constituted the bases for provincial law.^^ 

Such local codes often dealt with personal law and revenue, and thus 
complemented rather than displaced religious law. For example, one sec- 
tion of the lawbook compiled in 1 528—29 for the western Anatolian town 
of Izmir and its surroundings explains that whereas the customs duty 
at Izmir and other regional ports "is taken on agricultural yields, from 
grains, fruits, and other goods, the customs on the silk and similar goods 
coming through Chios and Europe is under the jurisdiction of the agents 
and collectors of the port of ^e§me."^^ It is difficult to locate any Islamic 
law in such a declaration; rather, the passage replicates western Anatolian 
political and commercial realities before its conquest by Ottoman arms. 
At that time, the island of Chios and its sister port ^e§me had served 

'^ Colin Imber, Ebu's-su'ud: the Islamic legal tradition (Stanford, CA, 1997), p. 44. 

'^ Daniel Goffman, "Izmir as a commercial center: the impact of Western trade on an 

Ottoman port, 1570-1650" (University of Chicago: Ph.D. diss., 1985), p. 24. Afacsimile 

of this legal code is on pp. 394-97. 

76 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

as entrepots for international trade, and Izmir had been a small town 
that traded almost exclusively in foodstuffs. The statutes of this Ottoman 
kanunname simply verified and sanctioned this state of affairs. 

Ottoman jurisprudence did not remain frozen in this fragmented and 
decentralized form. Over the course of the late fifteenth and sixteenth 
centuries, various ulema compiled general lawbooks of sultanic law. These 
codifications gradually subsumed and replaced the many local ones that 
had accompanied occupation of territories, until by the middle of the 
reign of Siileyman (1520-66), sultanic law had been largely regularized 
and systematized. The process did not end here, however. During the first 
century or so of Ottoman rule in the Balkans and Anatolia, Islamic and 
sultanic legal usage had developed largely in parallel. In the process, many 
contradictions had arisen between them. It was left to Ebu's-Su'ud, who 
presided as the §eyhulislam during the last decades of Siileyman's reign 
and the first eight years of his son Selim IPs, to identify and resolve the 
inconsistencies and ambiguities between the two systems of law.'* 

This mufti., whose father was himself both a scholar and a foremost 
dervish under Bayezid II, as a boy received exceptional tutoring. He fur- 
thered his education in one of the prestigious eight colleges attached to 
Mehmed II's mosque, and then rose rapidly after 1520 through the pa- 
tronage and friendship of Sultan Siileyman. In 1527-28, Ebu's-Su'ud 
became a professor at one of those same eight schools. He then moved 
swiftly up the hierarchy, becoming kadi of Bursa, then of Istanbul, then 
kadiasker, and finally, in 1545, the ^eyhiilislam . He relinquished this high- 
est post in the Ottoman religious careerladder only with his death in 1574. 

The instrument through which Ebu's-Su'ud contrived to integrate 
Islamic and sultanic law was the fetva, a proclamation issued by a qualified 
religious authority in response to questions of law and usage. Obviously, 
such a pronouncement produced by the §eyhulislam would have particular 
weight, and Edu's-Su'ud used his authority to bring "the laws of mankind 
into harmony with divine law."'^ According to one modern authority, he 
did so in three principal areas. First, he shaped the diverse corpus of laws 
dealing with land and taxes into a form that Ottoman society came to 
accept as sanctified. Second, by routinely adding the caliphal title to the 
long list of Siileyman's honorifics, he affirmed that the sovereign was not 
only the head of the Ottoman state, but also the guide for the community 
of all Muslims, an invented tradition that helped validate sultanic law. 
Third, and most controversially, he justified, in accordance with Hanafi 
law, the use of endowments (evkaf) in the lending of money and the 

'* A lucid treatment of this effort and the man who undertook it is in Imber, Ebu's-su'ud, 

especially pp. 40—58. 
'^ Imber, Ebu's-su'ud, p. 259. 

A seasoned polity 77 

generation of wealth. ^^ In short, Ebu's-Su'ud and other Ottoman reli- 
gious officials not only actively codified and standardized Ottoman law, 
but also did so in a way that allowed the state to project itself as orthodox 
even as it continued to respond creatively and with flexibility to challenges 
both domestic and external. 

Other elites 

Military innovation as well as religious flexibility helped consolidate the 
Ottoman state. As we have seen, Murad I and his successors checked 
the claims of potential tribal rivals in part by introducing a counter- 
vailing ^wZ-based administration and loyal infantry, artillery, mining, 
road-bridge-building, and other corps. They not only founded competing 
organizations, but they also strove to blend these warriors into Ottoman 
society by granting the most successful of them land-holdings within the 
expanding domains. 

Just as the modern state conducts censuses for political and social ends 
and in order to tax and conscript more systematically, so did the fifteenth- 
and sixteenth-century Ottoman state survey its conquered territories in 
order to ascertain their worth and where and how much land to grant 
its warriors. ^^ Such cadastral surveys (tapu-tahrirs) proved expensive and 
complex. Despite this difficulty, administrators at first undertook them 
systematically and exhaustively. The government first appointed an ad- 
ministrator (emiri) who, accompanied by a clerk (kdtip) and the regional 
kadi, collected available documentation about land and building owner- 
ship and local taxes. This information was written up and codified in a 
narrative (kanunname) that sought to mediate and resolve contradictions 
especially between those two non-Islamic legal traditions - local or cus- 
tomary and imperial — upon which the Ottomans based their dominion. 
Although these statutes served as legal guidebooks for kadis and naibs, 
they did not at first attempt to settle confiicts between imperial and re- 
ligious jurisprudence. As we have seen, such a synthesis was left to the 
jurisconsults of the mature Ottoman state. 

These officials next consulted with local grandees and proceeded from 
village to village and from town to town to inspect and evaluate land and 
other holdings. They finally drew up the results of their survey in a reg- 
ister, prefaced by the kanunname, that listed the names of the towns and 
villages, their populations, what they produced, and expected revenues. 

Imher, Ebu's-su'ud, passim. 
'^ Halil Inalcik (ed.), Hicri 835 tarihli suret-i defter-i sancak-i Arvanid (Ankara, 1954) is the 
classic study. But see also the same author's "Ottoman methods of conquest," Studia 
Islamica 2(1954): 107-12. 


The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

12 Whereas the janissaries were the core of the early modern Ottoman 
infantry, the sipahis were the army's cavalry. Perhaps drawing a horse 
was beyond the capacities of this artist, for only the bow and arrows 
suggest a mounted existence in this uncluttered depiction. Helffrich, 
Kurtzer und zvarkajftiger Bericht. 

A seasoned polity 


1 3 The dignified bearing of this mounted figure announces his power. 
Indeed, he is the military commander of Anatolia and served as a vizier 
in the Imperial Divan. Happel, Thesaurus exoticorum, sec. 2, p. 15. 

It was on the basis of these registers that the government distribtated land 
and villages to warriors, who thtas became sipahis presiding over timars. 

The government appointed over these sipahis (who were also termed 
beys) sancakbeyis, who were responsible for a sub-province (a sancak). 

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A seasoned polity 81 

Over the sancakbeyis Istanbul also appointed a beylerbeyi, or provincial 
governor. At first, these governors were usually Ottoman princes who 
established courts in places like Manisa and Ankara. Eventually, however, 
important Ottoman military commanders and powerful figures out of 
favor at the imperial court dominated these positions as governors. The 
government empowered the sipahi and his commanders to implement 
but not to promulgate punishment, which was the jurisdiction of the 
local kadi and the imperial authorities. This partition between power and 
authority became a mainstay of Ottoman governance. 

On the surface, this system seems similar to European feudalism. It de- 
centralized military power and resolved the dilemma of having to maintain 
a large army in a polity with a limited tax base and insufficient coinage. In 
fact, it was profoundly different. First of all, not only did the land upon 
which the sipahi lived remain the government's, but also it could not be 
inherited. The state, theoretically at least, lent it to the cavalryman for 
his lifetime only. This process made it difficult for the sipahi to identify 
strongly with the local community, and almost impossible for this class to 
translate decentralized military power into decentralizing political power 
and/or authority (which does not mean that the state was necessarily cen- 
tralized and despotic, but simply that centrifugal potential lay elsewhere). 

Secondly, the sipahis came together only during the campaign season. 
Although the time of year varied according to the target (Vienna or Isfa- 
han, Kefe or Cairo) and the type of military operation (naval or ground, 
battle or siege), in the Balkans and Mediterranean, at least, the season 
normally lasted from May until September. At other times, the sipahi 
retreated to his timar where he acted as overlord - taxing, rewarding, 
punishing, and visibly representing the state. The state recruited these 
soldiers from various origins (even Christian warriors were at first granted 
timars) and never provided them with the type of standardized training 
and education that produced a sense of camaraderie among janissaries. 
These cavalrymen simply never had an opportunity to develop the strong 
awareness of community and purpose, either with each other or with 
their region, which might have given them a coherent political agenda 
and consequent clout. 

Finally, the connection between sultan and sipahi was utterly differ- 
ent from the relationship between feudal king and lord. Whereas western 
European ruling classes lived in, and the monarchy had to live with, 
an inherited world of ritual, obligation, privilege, and birthright, the 
Ottoman military class was born with the Ottoman state, cobbled to- 
gether from central Asian, Persian, Arab, and Byzantine traditions in 
a creative merging of exigencies. Furthermore, the kadi rather than the 
sipahiwas the principal source of imperial authority in the provinces. Nor 

82 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

was the sipahi even the chief enforcer of the monarch's will, at least in 
urban settings, where the sultan's government more and more stationed 
autonomous garrisons of janissaries. 

In short, the two wings of the Ottoman army contrasted profoundly in 
derivation and features. Whereas the janissaries were owned infantrymen 
who lived together in barracks, received salaries, contrived through the 
Bekta§i religious order a unique system of belief, and thereby developed 
an almost unparalleled sense of camaraderie, the sipahis were free cav- 
alrymen who dwelt in relative isolation, lived off of their land holdings, 
tended toward a relative religious orthodoxy, and fraternized only during 
the military campaign season. 

The sipahi, then, served an administrative as well as military function. 
He was the principal managerial deputy of the state in its core provinces, 
where he collected revenue (typically in-kind) and administered imperial 
justice. Nevertheless, his tax-collecting function was not a centralizing 
operation, as in a modern bureaucracy. The sipahi received no salary and 
his primary function was military rather than civic. Nor was the timar 
system designed to funnel resources to the imperial center. It did little 
to augment the state's treasury or the government's ability to gather and 
monopolize data. 

Although the Ottomans never achieved (or even aspired to) the bloated 
and intrusive type of bureaucracy that marks almost every modern state, 
its administrative wing did mature and rival those of other early modern 
European states. The viziers who sat in the Imperial Divan headed this 
organization. Under them worked a gamut of individuals, some kuls and 
some not, devoted to receiving the innumerable complaints and problems 
that the vast and diverse Ottoman domains generated, and to recording 
and implementing an incessant flow of imperial decisions. Kadis and 
sipahis were a part of this system as appointees of the state as well as de- 
tached from it as legal authorities and military men. Pursuivants {gavu§es^ 
and scribes {kdtips), as salaried employees of the government, were more 
representative of the state than were either the military or religious elites. 

The gavu§ classically was a slave of the sultan. His ceremonial respon- 
sibility was to accompany and protect his lord and retinue in public 
spectacles. His administrative function was more practical, however, for 
it was this official who appeared on behalf of the sultan before foreign 
representatives and traveled to foreign governments with communiques. 
Furthermore, he carried imperial orders to local Ottoman officials and 
worked with them to ensure their implementation. Such orders usually 
rendered little of substance, but briefly instructed kadis and/or beylerbeyis 
to carry out a certain command. It was left to the gavu§ to negotiate 
the thicket of local authorities and factions that irrepressibly worked to 

A seasoned polity 83 

undermine such decrees. In short, thefavufs administrative function was 
vital, for he was the imperial voice and authority in the provinces and 

The scribal class (kdtips) - usually medrese-trained - were the true bu- 
reaucrats of the Ottoman world. '^ They helped compose and record those 
decrees that the Imperial Divan produced and the gavu§es delivered. As 
we have seen, a scribe also accompanied other officials (emins) across the 
empire to record information on population and production for purposes 
of taxation and military mobilization. They also were the collectors and 
recorders of taxes. 


In the Empire's formative decades and reflective of the Ottoman genius 
for accommodation and compromise, talented Christians as well as Mus- 
lims served within the Ottoman military and administrative elites. By the 
reign of Mehmed II, however, such men seem to have melted into Islamo- 
Ottoman culture. There were no longer exceptions to the rule that mem- 
bers of the sultan's household, the religious class, and the administration 
were Muslim. Over time, there also were fewer and fewer non-Muslims 
serving in the military. Outside of these cadres, however, there were few 
professions within the empire that imposed such religious limitations. In 
profound contrast to the rest of the European world, agriculturists, mer- 
chants, bankers, mariners, herders, and hawkers might be Muslim, or 
Armenian, Greek Orthodox, or Jewish. 

This variety was reflected in urban demographics. In spite of the diffi- 
culty of characterizing the Ottoman city,^^ commercial districts did tend 
to be variegated, a concentrated blend of tongues, attire, cultures, and 
especially spiritual beliefs, and western European visitors to Istanbul, 
Aleppo, Konya, or Edirne marveled at and usually condemned what was 
for them an exotic and shocking mix. Even residential quarters were not 
nearly as segregated as is often supposed. While it is true that Ottoman 
cities comprised neighborhoods deemed Christian, Jewish, or Muslim 
and sometimes named after the inhabitants' places of origin, they were 
not wholly exclusive. The presence of Muslim households in ostensibly 
Jewish and Christian neighborhoods, and vice versa, belies the view of an 
Ottoman world that may have been integrated commercially but socially 
remained rigorously segregated. 

On the scribes, see Linda T. Darling, Revenue raising and legitimacy: tax collection and 
finance administration in the Ottoman Empire, 1560—1660 (Leiden and New York, 1996). 
'^ On which see Eldem, Goffman, and Masters, Ottoman city, introduction. 

A seasoned polity 85 

Which is not to say that particular religions did not dominate particular 
neighborhoods. The Phanariot Greeks took their name from the district 
in Istanbul known as Fener, where the Greek Orthodox patriarch resided 
and the Greeks certainly dominated, as did Jews in Balat and Muslims in 
Fatih. Nevertheless, a sprinkling of Muslims always inhabited Balat, some 
Jews lived in Fener and a sizeable number of Greeks resided in Fatih. This 
situation was replicated in cities as dissimilar as the old imperial capital 
of Bursa, the interior Antep, and the worldly Izmir. 

Certain religions also controlled certain professions. Most pastoralists, 
for example, were Muslim (if sometimes deviant ones). Many mariners 
were Greek, Armenians tended to dominate international trade and bro- 
kerage, and textile manufacturers often were Jewish. The principal causes 
for such specialization, however, were not state-imposed restrictions upon 
non-Muslim employment or societal stereotyping of the sort so common 
in the Western world (Greeks as "natural" fishermen; Jews as "instinctive" 
bankers). Rather, it was nothing more than the legacies of the civilizations 
that the Ottomans inherited combined with the specifics of immigrant 
talents and employment opportunities that led to such specialization. 

Greek Orthodox association with the Ottoman navy is a case in point. 
As Turkomans pushed to the north, west, and south across Anatolia 
they soon faced water — the Black, the Marmara, the Aegean, and the 
Mediterranean seas. These steppe people had had little experience with 
negotiating such bodies of water, and principalities such as Aydmoglu 
and Karasi hired Byzantine ships and Greek shipbuilders and sailors to 
help them cross and navigate them. Ottomans of Turkoman ancestry 
did quickly learn about the sea and fully participated in commerce and 
expansion into the Black, Mediterranean, and even Red seas. Neverthe- 
less, Ottoman Greeks early secured this economic niche in the Ottoman 
world, and disproportionate numbers of Ottoman Greeks continued to 
labor as oarsmen, sailors, and fishermen until the 1920s. It was west- 
ern European travelers and Greek nationalists who in the eighteenth and 
nineteenth centuries observed this dominance and helped fabricate the 
fictions of an innate Greek aptitude for and an innate Turkish antipathy 
toward the sea. 

Ottoman Armenians achieved a similar association with the commerce 
in silks and precious stones, and Jews with the Ottoman textile industry. 
Again, imperialists, racists, and nationalists have sometimes perceived 
these lines of work as inherently apt. In fact, they had nothing to do with 
supposed racially or ethnically innate characteristics. Rather, the historic 
development and diasporic nature of both the Armenian and Jewish civ- 
ilizations put them in unique positions to serve as middle communities 
between the Ottoman and other worlds. 

86 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 



1 5 Three Armenian priests. Helffrich, Kurtzer und warhafftiger Bericht. 

A seasoned polity 87 

The ancient Armenian homeland, for example, was landlocked, which 
seems to argue against an involvement in international and overseas com- 
merce. The condition, however, produced a series of Armenian colonies 
in India, Anatolia, the Crimea, and elsewhere that usually eventually 
melted into their dominant cultures but also generated sweeping com- 
mercial networks. Long before the Ottoman period, Armenian traders 
had ranged across the Persian Gulf, the Indian Ocean, and the Caspian, 
Black, and Mediterranean seas.^" The simultaneous emergence of the 
Sunni Ottoman and Shi'a Safavid empires provided Armenians, who as 
neither Sunni nor Shi'a could live in both domains, an opportunity to 
serve as an unthreatening commercial link between these mutually hos- 
tile polities. 

The vicissitudes of Ottoman-Safavid warfare at the turn of the sev- 
enteenth century produced an Armenian association with silks. After a 
dormant period in the early sixteenth century, under Shah Abbas (1 587- 
1 629) Persia again moved aggressively against the Ottomans. Abbas aban- 
doned the old Safavid capital at Tabriz and built a new one at Isfahan, in 
a suburb of which -New Julfa -he resettled large numbers of Armenians 
who had been dispossessed in 1605 during devastating Ottoman-Safavid 
warfare in their homeland. This Armenian colony, established at the heart 
of Persia's silk-producing region, became the hub of a vast commercial 
network. Armenian merchants used their virtual monopoly over trade in 
Persian silks to establish satellite communities in several Ottoman cities, 
including Aleppo, Izmir, Bursa, Istanbul, and Edirne. In Ottoman as well 
as Safavid lands many learned to identify the Armenian community with 
this luxury commodity. 

In the pre-Ottoman eastern Mediterranean world, Jews also were re- 
nowned international traders. ^^ Ironically, the community's other princi- 
pal association was with "dirty" occupations such as leather tanning and 
state execution. During the Ottoman period, however, manufacturing 
supplemented and to an extent superseded these associations, princi- 
pally because of Sephardic migration from Spain, Portugal, and other 
western European countries. The capital and skills that these refugees 
brought into the empire produced vigorous, if short-lived, textile estab- 
lishments in Istanbul, in Palestine, and especially in Salonika. ^^ Whereas 
virtually no Jews had lived in this last city before the late fifteenth-century 

™ Curtin, Cross-cultural trade, pp. 182-86. 

^ ' The classic study on this community is S . D. Goitein, A Mediterranean society: an abridge- 
ment in one volume, ed. Jacob Lassner (Berkeley, 2000). But see also Ghosh's vivid In an 
antique land. 

^^ See Benjamin Braude, "International competition and domestic cloth in the Ottoman 
Empire, 1500-1650," Review 1(1979): 437-54. 

88 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 



16 "Frank" woman dressed fashionably. Nicolay, Le navigationi et 
viaggi nella Turchia. 

expulsions from Iberia, by the mid sixteenth century the settlement of 
thousands of Spaniards had granted the Jews a majority and turned 
Salonika into perhaps the principal Jewish cultural and economic center 
in the world. 

A seasoned polity 89 

Both contemporary and historical association of Ottoman Greek 
Orthodox, Armenian, and Jewish communities is with urban employment 
and metropolitan lifestyles. Nevertheless, such impressions are mislead- 
ing. It was simply that such professions tended to be particularly visible 
to those most likely to disseminate information about these groups - 
travelers, diplomats, writers and bureaucrats. As with other early mod- 
ern societies, the Ottoman polity remained demographically rural and 
economically agricultural. Just as many Ottoman fishermen were not 
Greek Orthodox, there were also Ottoman silk merchants who were 
not Armenian; and just as not all Ottoman industrialists were Jewish, 
so not all agriculturists were Muslim. Even though one or another com- 
munity may have dominated farming regionally, in the empire as a whole 
every religio-ethnic community engaged in this basic occupation. 

The Ottoman state was Islamic. Consequently, theoretically at least, 
Muslims were the most privileged of non-elite Ottoman subjects, and it 
is certain that in this intensely agrarian society, in which the basic unit of 
production remained the family farm and perhaps 90 percent of its inhab- 
itants were farmers, Muslims were prominent as agriculturalists. Indeed, 
some argue that the fift-xhe amount of land plowable by two oxen in one 
day - constitutes a fundamental institution in the Ottoman world, and 
that the dominance of Muslims in this profession defines the polity as an 
Islamic one. Furthermore, as one historian explains, "the most impor- 
tant pre-requisite for the continuity of such a system appears to have been 
centralist state control over land possession and family labor."^^ In other 
words, it was the Ottoman government that both protected these small 
farms from notables anxious to consolidate and expand their holdings, 
and constrained and taxed the farmer's production. The state's principal 
tool in these endeavors to both safeguard and levy was the systematic and 
repeated surveying and registration of land and inhabitants. 

Muslims labored in almost every sector of the Ottoman economy. Not 
only did they dominate the military and bureaucracy almost exclusively, 
but they also were represented - in varying proportions according to time, 
place, and occupation - in virtually every other of the myriad urban pro- 
fessions as well. Evliya (^elebi makes clear the bewildering diversity of 
urban employment in the best-known passages of his multivolume trav- 
elogue, a lengthy description of a three-day parade ordered by Murad IV 
in 1638 of "all the guilds of the city of Constantinople, both great 
and small."^^ Within these pages, that make up one-third of a volume, 
are mentioned 735 guilds, including carpenters, builders, woodcutters, 

Halil Inalcik, An economic and social history of the Ottoman Empire, 1300—1914 (Cam- 
bridge, 1994), p. 145. 
^* John Freely presents an extensive description of the parade in his Istanbul: the imperial 
city (London, 1996), pp. 229-36. 

90 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

sawyers, masons, chalk-makers, toy-makers, bakers, butchers, ship cap- 
tains, fish-cooks, confectioners, gravediggers, thieves, pimps, beggars, 
physicians, tavern-keepers, and others. The author provides only hints 
of the religious composition of these "guilds" (perhaps a better transla- 
tion would be "associations of artisans"), a silence which itself suggests 
that, in the workplace at least, religion meant little to the early modern 
Ottoman. Other sources confirm that virtually all of these urban organi- 
zations consisted of religiously mixed workers. 

It probably is futile even to attempt guesses about which careers Mus- 
lims dominated. For example, and surprisingly, overhalf of the craftsmen 
who built Siileyman's great mosque were Christian. Nor were Muslims 
absent from professions one might associate with other religions. For ex- 
ample, some 20 percent of surgeons operating in Istanbul in 1700 were 
Muslim. ^^ In short, representatives of this religious community toiled 
alongside Christians and Jews as peddler, fisherman, shipbuilder, con- 
struction worker, artisan, and every sort of urban and rural worker. In 
striking contrast to many other parts of Europe, in the Ottoman economy 
the success of the Muslim, as with the Christian and the Jew, depended 
not upon policies of restriction and exclusion but upon talent, traditional 
expertise, and practice. 

This variety of worshipers in every urban employment suggests a com- 
plex identity in the Ottoman world. Religion, it seems, constituted only 
one face of a subject's sense of self. At workplaces in the cities, there was 
little segregation between Muslims and non-Muslims; although more re- 
ligious homogeneity existed in residential districts, even here exclusively 
Christian, Jewish, or Muslim neighborhoods were rare. This urban to- 
pography suggests that employment and economic level may have been 
even more important than religion in the Ottoman subject's personal 

The Ottoman Muslim presence was just as vital in trade and mer- 
chandising as it was in other employments. Here again its position had 
much to do with historical precedent and geographic distribution. In 
most Arab lands, for example, Muslims were active in, but did not al- 
ways control, both local economies and caravan commerce, just as they 
had done for centuries. Muslim traders connected Aleppo, Damascus, 
Baghdad, Cairo, and other cities with the essential produce of their rural 
hinterlands.^* They also dominated the caravan and seaborne commerce 
that linked the cities of Aleppo and Cairo to the peppers, cloves, and 

^^ Mansel, Constantinople, p. 124. 

^^ One of the strongest statements on these activities is in Bruce Masters, The origins of 

Western economic dominatice in the Middle East: mercantilism and the Islamic economy in 

Aleppo, 1600-1750 (New York, 1988), especially pp. 47-68. 

A seasoned polity 91 

other spices of the East and their markets in the Middle East and Europe. 
Muslims were less dominant, but still present, in the local economies in 
other parts of the empire. Non-Muslims were a much stronger pres- 
ence especially along the Anatolian and southeast European trading 
corridors. This difference again can be explained historically and demo- 
graphically. First of all, in these lands the Ottomans had superimposed 
their political system upon Christian rather than Islamic economies. 
Consequently, non-Muslim communities such as Armenians, Jews, and 
Ragusan Catholics managed to establish themselves within the Anatolian 
and Balkan economies. 

They also carved out positions as "middle merchants" between Ot- 
toman domains and the West, and in the process helped freeze Ottoman 
Muslims out of these trading corridors. In fact, of all economic endeav- 
ors within the Ottoman world, it was only direct trade with the rest of 
Europe from which Muslims were virtually barred. This exclusion de- 
rived only in part from the ability of other groups to construct communal 
and familial trading diasporas. Also essential was that Catholic Europeans 
who settled in Ottoman port towns proved reluctant to deal directly with 
Muslims, and that, most crucial of all, bans against non-Christian settle- 
ment in many European port towns proscribed Muslim Ottomans from 
constructing their own commercial networks to rival Armenian, Greek, 
Jewish, and western European ones. 

A world governed by exceptions 

The Ottomans certainly used terms such as kul, ulema, sipahi, askeri, 
and reaya, and conceived them as types. Nevertheless, they were not 
in fact airtight categories. Considerable variation in the memberships 
and meanings of these groupings existed both spatially and chronolog- 
ically. The functions of the janissary in Aleppo differed markedly from 
his counterpart in Istanbul; the path of acceptance into and promotion 
within the janissary corps was not the same in the fifteenth and seven- 
teenth centuries. The same can be said of the sipahi, who hardly existed 
in Arab lands and whose prestige plummeted between the conquests of 
Constantinople (1453) and of Crete (1669), and the Jewish merchant, 
who by the end of the seventeenth century had seen the collapse of 
his impressive trading diaspora and its manufacturing foundation. Even 
the importance of being Muslim changed between and within the mil- 
itary, political, social, and economic spheres, as well as over time and 

This implicit adaptability is one key to understanding the Ottoman 
world. The secret to Ottoman longevity and the empire's ability to rule 

92 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

over a vast and mixed collection of territories was not its legendary mil- 
itary, its loyal bureaucracy, its series of competent rulers, or a particular 
system of land tenure. Rather, it was simply its flexibility in dealing with 
this diverse society. Even as some western European states drifted toward 
concepts of constitutionality and citizenship - in the process at times es- 
tablishing legal codes that granted each subject equal rights and opened 
for them a gamut of undreamed-of opportunities, and at other times 
demanding from them an unprecedented uniformity even as they con- 
demned and expelled their rivals first in belief, and later in ethnicity, race, 
and even class - the Ottoman Empire moved in a different direction. It 
fashioned a society defined by diversity (although certainly not equality) 
of population and flexibility in governance. 

Kubad at the Sublime Porte 

There is, at the end of a secret gallery, a small square window which 
serves as a listening post. It is a wicker-work grille, with a curtain of 
crape or black taffeta, and is called the "dangerous window," because 
the prince may, whenever he wishes, listen to and see all that takes 
place, without being seen.' 

Before embarking for Venice, Kubad had to appear before the Imperial Divan 
to receive his documentation and verbal instructions. On a gloomy and drizzly 
morning in early September 1567, then, he rode from his home in Fatih, the 
quarter erected around the rather squat mosque of Mehmed II the Conqueror, 
nudging his mount along the slippery and uneven cobbled roads that twisted 
up and down the hilly city and across the grounds of the ancient Byzantine 
hippodrome. He circled to the right of the Hagia Sofia mosque and through the 
Imperial Gate into the first and most public of the three courtyards of Topkapt, 
the imperial palace. Here he dismounted and left his steed to be dried and 
fed at the imperial stables. As Kubad hurried along, he unconsciously noted 
his surroundings: to his left lay the ancient Byzantine church, Hagia Irene, 
as well as the mint, the hospital, and the imperial stables; and to his right 
towered the high wall that marked out the entire palace grounds. The imperial 
official, however, walked straight ahead, toward a second portal, the Gate of 

No guard had challenged his entry into the first courtyard, for all were allowed 
here. The area bustled with every type of person, both subject and foreigner. Some 
waited to present petitions to scribes who forwarded them to appropriate imperial 

Illustrations de B. de Vigenere Bourhonnois sur Vhistoire de Chalcocondyle athenien^ in Histoire 

de la decadence de Vempire grec et Vestahlissement de celuy des turcs (Rouen, 1660), p. 19; 

quoted in Inalcik, Ottoman Empire, p. 90. 

We have no information about how Kubad received his instructions. He certainly went to 

Topkapi Palace in order to do so, however. The best, indeed the definitive, work on this 

structure is Necipoglu, Architecture, ceremonial, and power. See also Godfrey Goodwin, 

Topkapi Palace: an illustrated guide to its life and personalities (London, 2000). 

On this mosque and its district, see Sumner-Boyd and Freely, Strolling through Istanbul, 

pp. 253-69. 

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Kubad at the Sublime Porte 95 

agencies, others were there to escape the city's grime and congestion, and a few 
morbid bystanders had come simply to examine the stuffed heads of disobedient 
high officials that grotesquely ornamented the first courtyard's marble pillars — a 
coarse and cruel barometer of Ottoman politics. At the second gate, however, 
began the sultan's private domain. No horse other than the monarch's own 
passed through its portal; the bostancis who guarded it checked all pedestrians 
who demanded the right of entry. 

As an imperial pursuivant, Kubad easily passed through the gates and into 
a capacious garden. Neither stately citadel nor commemorative statuary rose 
before his eyes. Indeed, the only lofty structures within the palace grounds were 
the smoldering chimneys of the imperial kitchens that stretched along the wall 
to his right and the only artwork was fountains. In front of him were well- 
kept gardens, fountains, and a series of pavilions that speckled the grounds like 
randomly raised tents, a landscape that faintly echoed Kubad's pastoral youth. 
He knew that this nomadic past resonated more strongly in the third courtyard 
that lay directly before him through a third gate, the High Gate, for he had 
spent much of his youth there. Nevertheless, he had not since passed into this 
enderun-i humayun (imperial interior) or imperial harem, which was strictly 
off-limits to anyone but members of the sultan's household, several hundred 
boys (among whom he had once been included) and girls being trained for 
imperial service, and eunuchs. The pursuivant swerved to his left away from 
this forbidden quarter, toward a square-shaped pavilion where the Imperial 
Council routinely met. 

As Kubad approached the building, he heard a clamor of angry voices and 
then saw the Venetian representative Soranzo emerge, red-faced, clearly flus- 
tered, and accompanied by an edgy dragoman and about a dozen retainers. The 
bailo rushed out of the audience room, brushed by him with nothing more than 
an angry glare, and strode away toward the Gate of Salutation. The favuf 
rightly guessed that Soranzo now recognized his error in having agreed to bind 
his community to the kadi's court six months hence and had just petitioned 

^ Eldem presents a vivid reminder of this brutal side to high Ottoman politics in 
"Istanbul," pp. 164-74. 

^ On bostanci, see "Bostandji," EI. 

^ Some have made much of this faint echo of a nomadic past. John Keegan for example 
draws upon the palace's flatness to argue the persistent nomadic outlook of Ottoman 
civilization: "The persistence of the nomadic ethos is nowhere better caught than in the 
Topkapi at Istanbul, palace of the Ottoman Turkish sultans, where, until the beginning 
of the nineteenth century, the rulers of an empire that stretched from the Danube River 
to the Indian Ocean spent their days as they might have done on the steppe, seated on 
cushions on carpeted floors of makeshift pavilions set up in the palace gardens, dressed 
in the horseman's kaftan and loose trousers, and having as their principal regalia the 
mounted warrior's quivers, bow cases and archer's thumb rings. Planted though it was 
in the capital city of the eastern Roman empire, the Topkapi remained a nomadic camp, 
where the horsetail standards of battle were processed before great men, and stables 
stood at the door" {A history of warfare [New York, 1994], pp. 181-82). 

96 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

the Imperial Council to request that they amend the settlement. His ire in part 
derived from that assembly's refusal to do so. What Kubad did not know, how- 
ever, was that the newly appointed Ottoman grand admiral Piydle Pasha had 
also protested in fiercely menacing tones against Christian pirates who darted 
out of the many small havens along the shoreline of Venetian-held Cyprus, at- 
tacked Ottoman vessels carrying grains from Egypt to Istanbul, and then, often 
with the Ottoman navy in hot pursuit, retreated to the protection of Venetian 

Kubad paused for a few moments outside the pavilion, waiting for a bostanci 
to usher him in for his audience. As he entered the room, he saw seated before 
him the viziers of the Council, including the head scribe Ebu al-Fazl Mehmed 
(^elebi, the grand admiral Piydle Pasha, the revered §eyhulislam Ebu's-Su'ud 
Efendi, the long-lasting grand vizier Sokollu Mehmed Pasha, Selim IPs trusted 
laid Mustafa Pasha, and several others. The recently installed Sultan Selim II 
of course was not among those assembled, although it was possible that he secretly 
watched the proceedings from behind the screen in a window that pierced one 
wall of the pavilion. 

It was clear that the just-concluded meeting had exasperated members of the 
Council as well as the Venetian representative. The grand vizier was speaking 
with soft force to Piydle Pasha even as Kubad walked in, and the usually serene 
admiral seemed agitated. As soon as the pursuivant entered, however, Mehmed 
Pasha stopped talking and turned toward him. "As you know" he began, "the 
Venetian Jew Hayyim Saruq has reneged upon his obligations to some of our 
Jewish subjects and our sovereign padishah. Carrying these documents" with 
which he motioned to an attending scribe who passed Kubad a sealed sachet, 
"you are to accompany to Venice the son of our cherished Joseph di Segura, 
where you will present our grievances to the doge and demand recompense for 
our losses. We authorize you to threaten dire consequences should he refuse." 

Kubad was startled by a sudden thud to his right, and out of the corner of his 
eye he saw the grand admiral jerk forward. "How insubstantial" he exclaimed. 
"Surely his most majestic damad could recommend a more tangible threat!" The 
voice of laid Mustafa, Selim IPs influential tutor, seconded Piydle's objection: 
"Just as my friend has recently removed the last Genoese outpost on Chios from 
the Aegean, let us exploit this snub as a pretext to take control of Cyprus and 
in this manner also wipe the Venetian scourge from our seas." 

The grand vizier raised his hand for silence and then contemplated his col- 
leagues. Finally he spoke: "I too would like to see an Ottoman Cyprus. But I 

^ On these and other Ottoman high officials, see Ismail Hami Danismend, Osmanli Devlet 
Erkdnt, vol. v oilzahli Osmanh Tarihi Kronolojisi (Istanbul, 1971). Several of these men 
appear in the text below. 

' On which, see Daniel Goffman, Izmir and the Levantine world, 1550-1650 (Seattle, WA, 
1990), pp. 61-62. 

Kubad at the Sublime Porte 97 

also much fear that such an attack would end the squabbling between Venice and 
other Catholic states and stimulate a grand alliance against us. Let us exercise 
some caution. ^avu§j say nothing of such matters. Soranzo knows that Cyprus 
is threatened and must already be warning his Senate of such. The implied 
danger will suffice to ease your negotiations. With these words, Kubad was 

As he withdrew through the outer courtyards of the palace, he thought about 
the fractured Imperial Council. The political strife that put Sultan Siileyman's 
last grand vizier, struggling to retain his position under the new padishah, at 
odds with Selim II's personal favorites was plain. Perhaps Sokollu Mehmed's 
greatest burden was that the sultan had inherited him from his father and 
certainly must be tempted to replace him with his own man. This liability was 
only partially offset by his marriage to Selim's daughter Ismihan sultan, for 
others also had such ties to the imperial household. Piydle Pasha for one had 
recently gained a vizierate only in part because of his conquest of Chios. The 
grand admiral's own wife was Gevherhan sultan, Ismihan's sister. As Kubad 
walked through the gates of the outer courtyard, he wondered if Mehmed Pasha 
would share the destiny of his predecessor Qandarh Halil, who had conspired to 
depose Mehmed II after his father's abdication, had opposed the great sultan's 
attack upon Constantinople, and soon after the city's conquest had paid the 
price for his resistance with his head. 

'" This dialogue is wholly invented, but reflects the likely positions of the principals. 
" On these domestic politics, see Peirce, Imperial harem, pp. 65-79. 

Factionalism and insurrection 

The reaya no longer obeyed the sovereign's command; the soldiers 
turned against the sultan. There was no respect for the authorities and 
they were attacked not by words but blows. All acted as they pleased. 
As tyranny and injustice increased, people in the provinces began to 
flee to Istanbul. The old order and harmony departed. When these 
have finally collapsed, catastrophe will surely follow.' 

This, also, is not concealed from the heart of the truth-seeker: in 
the Sublime State, in every period, the influence of speech and free 
action has fallen to the share of one group [or another] . And then until 
the time when, divine will permitting, influence and control pass from 
that corps to another corps, it is no more than natural for each group 
to vaunt itself foolishly while it has the royal favor and to rejoice in 
receiving profits to its heart's content. But one must add at least this 
much: those who attain to glory and favor through especial fortune of 
this sort must, no matter who they are, behave with good sense, and 
must not fail to observe the limits which the rights of God and of the 
people constitute.^ 

However invincible the Ottoman military machine seemed through much 
of the sixteenth century, however coherent Ottoman society seems to 
have become, and however much money poured into the state coffers, 
as a monarchy the empire remained dependent upon the abilities of a 
single man. Even though fortune, and prudent and inventive principles 
of succession brought a series of competent sultans to the throne, any 
despotism, reliant as it is upon whims and fancies as well as discretion 
and wisdom, is inherently unstable. Siileyman (1520-66) ruled during 
the supposed Ottoman golden age and exhibited all of these traits, both 
positive and negative. He was both a conqueror and the slayer of his 
chief lieutenant and his son, both a romantic poet and the spoiler of the 
Ottoman blueprint for imperial succession. He both benefited from a 

' Selaniki Mustafa Efendi, Tarih-i Seldniki: as quoted in Inalcik, Ottoman Empire, p. 46. 
^ Naima, Tarih-i Naima, as quoted in Lewis V. Thomas, A study of Naima, ed. Norman 
Itzkowitz (New York, 1971), p. 101. 


Factionalism and insurrection 99 

mature state and laid the seeds for the transformations that many insist 
ushered in Ottoman decline. 

Siileyman as personifier of empire 

Siileyman's father Selim was a great conquering sultan. With his defeat 
of the Safavids at the Battle of ^aldiran in 1514 and his conquest of 
much of the Arab world in 1516-17, Selim not only again proved the 
strength of Ottoman arms, but also transformed the empire's very ideo- 
logical and strategic focus. Until that time and despite the Islamic nature 
of the state, the government had ruled over at least as many Christians 
as Muslims, and had contended with chiefly Catholic foes. With flrst 
the confrontation with the Shi'ite Safavid state, followed immediately 
thereafter by the capture of Aleppo and Cairo, Mecca and Medina, the 
Ottomans now became responsible not only for upholding Sunni ortho- 
doxy against a potent opposing form of Islam, but also for the upkeep of 
the holiest cities in Islam and for the safe passage of pilgrims embarking 
upon the hajj.^ Furthermore, the Ottomans also inherited not only the 
overwhelmingly Muslim Arab people, but also their strong sense of self, 
their long history, and their pride as the direct descendants of Abraham's 
elder son Ismael and Muhammed. Finally, Selim's conquests exposed the 
Ottomans, more directly than ever, to powerful empires. In the Red Sea, 
Persian Gulf, and Indian Ocean, they now faced an uncompromisingly 
Catholic Portuguese presence; in Mesopotamia and eastern Anatolia they 
now had to compete with an aggressively Shi'ite Safavid empire; and in 
the Mediterranean Sea and the Balkans, they were soon to confront a 
Holy Roman Empire united under the leadership of Charles V. The em- 
pire that Siileyman inherited in 1 520 faced greater rivals than had existed 
earlier. It also was as potent as any European polity that had existed since 
Rome. It encompassed the Balkans, Anatolia, much of the Fertile Cres- 
cent, and Egypt, and stretched from the Danube River to the Red Sea 
and from the Caspian Sea to the Morean peninsula. Nor, unusually, did 
the new sultan have brothers to battle for the throne, but enjoyed the 
luxury of assuming the sultanate unopposed. 

Consequently, Siileyman was well placed to continue the expansion of 
his empire, and did so with the capture in 1521 of the Hungarian city of 
Belgrade, which controlled access to the Habsburg capital of Vienna, and 
with the taking in 1522 of the island of Rhodes, which had been the base 
for the Knights of St. John, a crusading fraternity that preyed especially 

^ On which, see Suraiya Faroqhi, Pilgrims and sultans: the hajj under the Ottomans (London, 




»— I 
»— I 































































































































Factionalism and insurrection 101 

upon Ottoman ships carrying provisions and monies between Egypt and 
Istanbul. Through these two conquests, Siileyman not only rounded out 
his realm in Europe and the Mediterranean, but also legitimized his reign 
and asserted himself as a conqueror. 

Nevertheless, the international scene had changed. Whereas Mehmed 
II had faced little more than an enfeebled Byzantine city state and Selim 
had conquered an unstable Mamluk realm (after deploying firearms to 
defeat the Safavid Shah Ismael at the Battle of ^aldiran), Siileyman con- 
fronted two young and aggressive foes: in the Mediterranean world there 
was the Habsburg Empire, which under Charles V included almost all of 
Catholic Europe, and in the Indian Ocean was the seaborne Portuguese 
Empire, which was busily striving to establish presences throughout the 
region, particularly in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea. The Ottoman 
Empire may have been stronger and better placed than either of these 
realms, but Siileyman faced the prospect of having simultaneously to 
confront both. 

He did so with great vigor, if not always with success. In 1526 he de- 
feated the Hungarians in the Battle of Mohacs and briefly took Buda. 
Three years later, he led another army into Hungary, occupied the entire 
country, and even besieged Vienna for three weeks. The Ottomans, how- 
ever, found it difficult to hold what was conquered. The distance between 
Istanbul and these provinces, the custom of retreat after each campaign 
season, and the abilities of the Habsburgs to organize and mobilize oppos- 
ing forces may have contributed to the Ottomans' shaky position. It was in 
fact not until the 1540s that the Ottomans felt secure enough to organize 
the regions around the towns of Buda and Temesvar into provinces. Fur- 
thermore, a relatively stable "march" area emerged between the Habsburg 
and Ottoman domains, which demarcated an unacknowledged but very 
real border between the two empires. 

The Ottoman knack for creative organization is evident in these six- 
teenth-century conquests. For example, the state did not impose Otto- 
man methods of tax collection on the Hungarian lands as thoroughly as it 
had on previous European conquests. Even with such a fundamental tax 
as the cizye (head tax upon non-Muslims), which more than any other 
imposition denoted integration into the Abode of Islam, the government 
granted many exemptions. Other taxes often were gathered according to 
local customary rather than Islamic principles.^ 

Such flexibility was even more apparent in the frontier states of Tran- 
sylvania, Wallachia, and Moldavia, which were conquered in sporadic 
fashion during the course of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. As 

* Geza David, "Administration in Ottoman Europe," in Kunt and Woodhead (eds.), 
Siileyman the Magnificent^ pp. 85—88. 


Factionalism and insurrection 103 

early as the late fourteenth century, Bayezid had sent raiders against 
Wallachian territory, and it fell more directly under Ottoman influence 
when one of his sons, Musa, married the monarch's daughter in 1409 
or 1410. It was not until after the second Battle of Kosovo (1444), in 
which Murad II routed the Hungarians and various crusading troops 
(including Wallachians) that the Ottomans firmly established the princi- 
pality as a protectorate. His son Mehmed confirmed its status in 1460 
when Vlad IV accepted Ottoman dominion. Moldavia finally fell under 
Ottoman sovereignty only two decades later, in 1484, when Ottoman 
and Crimean Tatar armies took the Black Sea port cities of Kilia and 
Akkerman. In 1503, both Hungary and Poland accepted these faits ac- 
complis; but the Moldavian monarch did not do so until 1511, and it was 
not until 1538 that Siileyman, after the prince attempted to throw off 
Ottoman control, stationed Ottoman garrisons there. 

Neither Wallachia nor Moldavia was ever fully assimilated into the 
Ottoman state and society. Ottoman garrisons occupied them and trib- 
utes were given, but no cadastral surveys of the provinces were admin- 
istered; neither were sipahis granted timars or kadis appointed in these 
territories. Such methods of indirect rule were even more evident in Tran- 
sylvania, which did not fall into the Ottoman orbit until later. As early 
as the 1440s, its ruler, John Hunyadi, had staged a series of successful 
campaigns against the Ottomans. Other than a few raids and a rather 
informal acknowledgment of sovereignty through a tribute, however, the 
Ottomans exhibited little interest in the principality before Transylvania 
became a prize in the struggle not only between the Habsburg and 
Ottoman Empires, but also between Catholics and Protestants. 

In 1551, Siileyman sent an army under his grand vizier Sokullu 
Mehmed against Sigismund II, the prince of Transylvania, who had al- 
lied with the Habsburgs in part to help quash the mounting threat of 
Calvinism within his domain. Within a year, the Ottomans had recap- 
tured most of Transylvania and returned it to vassalage. The war not 
only constituted a continuation of the long struggle between these two 
empires, but also again manifested the Ottoman ability to exploit rifts 
in Christendom: just as the Balkan lands had become Ottoman in part 
because their Greek and Serbian Orthodox inhabitants despised Catholic 
rule, so did much of eastern Hungary enter the Ottoman realm in part 
because its Protestant inhabitants feared the absolute Catholic intoler- 
ance toward their beliefs (newly manifested in the Inquisition). In the 
case of Transylvania, however, the Ottoman hand was particularly light. 
Unlike the Wallachian and Moldavian principalities, it saw no Ottoman 
garrisons, its diet elected its own princes, its princes sent no hostages to 
Istanbul, and its taxes remained unusually low. 










Factionalism and insurrection 105 

The Ottomans managed the Danubian provinces as uniquely and cre- 
atively as they handled other regions of the empire. For example, the gov- 
ernment modeled neither Selim's Arab land conquests nor Siileyman's 
Danubian ones on the example of its Anatolian and Balkan heartlands. In 
each case, if for very different reasons, it granted relative autonomy and 
left many customary laws in place. Even within each area the state proved 
flexible. The Ottomans understood historical and political peculiarities, 
and never brought either Transylvania or Egypt into as tight adminis- 
trative control as even the rest of Hungary or Syria. The state could be 
bloodily harsh, to be sure; however, it also showed astonishing leniency 
as the situation demanded. 

Siileyman as "king of kings" 

This sultan did not extend his power and legitimacy only through martial 
exploits. Indeed, he treated travel to and from military campaigns almost 
as an elected official would; that is, as an opportunity for public display 
and enhancement of reputation. In 1 534, for example, when an Ottoman 
army marched on Tabriz and won Baghdad from the Safavids, Siileyman 
left much of the hard campaigning to his grand vizier, Ibrahim Pasha, 
while he dallied en route at Kiitahya, Ak§ehir, Konya, Kayseri, Sivas, 
and Erzincan, and returned via Diyarbekir, Aleppo, Antakya, Adana, and 
Konya (again) to attend personally to the grievances of his subjects and 
visit holy and historic sites. ^ The sultan arrived at the military front just 
in time to lay claim to the conquest of the city of Baghdad. He thus 
opportunistically was able simultaneously to display to his subjects and 
to the world his concern for legal justice and his military prowess. 

Siileyman's pursuit of the codification of the Ottoman legal code that 
his great grandfather Mehmed II had begun also displayed his interest in 
justice, an impression that he cultivated. One Ottoman chonicler writing 
soon after the sultan's death describes how "the sweet perfume of his 
deeds was spread to the four corners of the earth . . . talk of his justice was 
on everyone's tongue; thus was his concern for the care of the reaya made 
manifest."^ Indeed, because of this focus, Turks today recall him not as 
Siileyman the Magnificent, but as Siileyman the Lawgiver (kanuni). 

As striking as this sultan's concern for justice is the fact that he made 
sure that the entire world knew about it. Siileyman (or at least his advisors) 

^ Christine Wbodhead, "Perspectives on Siileyman," in Kunt and Wbodhead (eds.), 
Siileyman the Magnificent, p. 168. 

Petra Kappert, (ed.), Geschichte Sultan Siileyman Kdnums von 1520 his 1557, oder Tahakdt 
iil-memdlik ve derecdt iil-mesdlik von Celdlzdde Mustafd (Wiesbaden, 1981), fo. 28a; as 
quoted by Woodhead, "Perspectives on Siileyman," p. 165. 

106 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

displayed an almost obsessive attentiveness to personal glory in his pa- 
tronage of both architecture and literature, and in his personal habits. His 
great architect Sinan, a dev§irme boy who began his career as a designer 
of military bridges, went on to construct some of the most important 
public buildings in the world, including the Selimiye mosque in Edirne 
and the soaring Siileymaniye mosque, that even today presides over 
Istanbul's skyline and reverberates with memories of this grand monarch 
and the empire over which he ruled. ^ He was equally attentive to his liter- 
ary legacy. The sultan not only himself wrote verses under the pen name 
"Muhibbi" (affectionate companion), but also patronized such principal 
classical Ottoman poets as Baki and Hayali. These lyricists memorialized 
their ruler in such verses as Baki's 

in truth he was [the epitome of] elegance and beauty, of prosperity 

and dignity 
the monarch with the crown of Alexander, the army of Darius 
the sphere bowed its head in the dust at his feet 
the earth before his gate served as prayer mat for the world. ^ 

Siileyman also sponsored court historians, who unabashedly promoted 
their patron's character and exploits. 

The historian Lokman, writing some twenty years after the sultan's 
death, remembered the ruler as "a mine of talent, a quarry of abun- 
dance and munificence; he had no equal in grace and charm; he was 
free from vanity and arrogance and wore no robe of pride."^ It is striking 
how successfully Siileyman marketed himself. His reputation as military 
strategist, as just ruler, and as artist may have been deserved, but it cer- 
tainly grew with time, until he was considered, both domestically and 
abroad, as a paragon among monarchs. He was so successful at promot- 
ing himself, in fact, that no succeeding sultan could measure up; the 
resultant barkening back toward a misplaced past probably contributed 
to a perception of subsequent disquietude and corruption, the condition 
into which the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Ottoman empire is 
often said to have plunged. 

The imagery of Baki's poem suggests how conscious Siileyman and his 
court were of the history of the domain over which he ruled as well as 
the regions he aspired to govern. The poet compares him favorably with 
Darius, the great king of the ancient Persian Empire, as well as Alexander, 
the Macedonian who conquered most of the known world and introduced 

^ AptuUah Kuran, Sinan the Grand Old Master of Ottoman architecture (Washington, D.C., 

and Istanbul, 1987). 
^ Quoted in Woodhead, "Perspectives on Suleyman," p. 180. 
' Quoted in Woodhead, "Perspectives on Suleyman," p. 176. 

Factionalism and insurrection 107 

Hellenistic civilization to it. The sultan not only measured himself against 
historical world conquerors, but also evaluated himself favorably against 
contemporary leaders. He sought consciously and deliberately to vie with 
the Holy Roman Emperor and the Pope as imperial successor to the 
Roman Empire as well as to link himself with the civilizations of Greece, 
Persia, and Arabia. 

Siileyman inherited these ambitions from his predecessors, most no- 
tably from his great-grandfather Mehmed II, who with the conquest of 
Constantinople in 1453 had proclaimed himself heir to the Romans, had 
sought to secure that claim with the conquest of Italy, the Ottoman in- 
vasion of which aborted with his death in 1481, and symbolically had 
sought to prove the universality of his empire by inviting to Istanbul a 
bevy of European artists, most notably Gentile Bellini, who had come to 
Istanbul in 1479 at Mehmed's invitation and who painted several por- 
traits of the sultan. Almost a century later, Siileyman's advisors charted a 
similar course. In the late 1520s and early 1530s, the grand vizier Ibrahim 
Pasha and his expatriate Venetian comrade Alvise Gritti orchestrated a 
series of processions and celebratory displays during the sultan's cam- 
paigns deep into Hungary and Austria. At the city of Nish, for example, 
two Habsburg envoys observed "the Turkish emperor sitting in majesty 
and pomp on a golden throne . . . The columns or supports of the throne 
were completely covered with jewels and costly pearls."^" Such a display 
clearly was meant not only to awe these Austrian emissaries, but also to 
project a perception of power westward. 

Even in the imperial capital, Ottoman ceremonial began more to em- 
ulate the West. One manifestation of this change was that, beginning in 
about 1530, Siileyman no longer reclined crosslegged upon a divan in 
the manner of his predecessors when displaying himself to ambassadors 
and other dignitaries, but instead seated himself high above them upon a 
sumptuous and jewel-encrusted throne. Indeed, the sultan's very choice 
of attire and his ceremonials displayed what apparently was an objective 
to subvert the claims of his imperial adversaries. One manner in which 
he competed with European rulers, for example, was by adapting the 
crown and sceptre - regalia associated with Roman and Catholic impe- 
rial traditions but symbols of authority that resonated not at all in the 
Middle East or Central Asia.'' Indeed, during the same military cam- 
paign into the Balkans in the early 1530s, Siileyman showed off a magnifi- 
cent crown — designed and assembled by Venetian artisans - that markedly 
united motifs from the coronation crowns of the Holy Roman Emperor 

'" Quoted in Giilru Necipoglu, "Suleyman the Magnificent and the representation of power 

in the context of Ottoman-Hapsburg-papal rivalry," Art Bulletin 71.3(1989): 409. 
" On which, see the insightful and persuasive Necipoglu, "Siileyman the Magnificent." 

108 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

Map 5 Siileyman gives the impression of being the most magnificent 
of the many sultans that illustrate this massive volume, published only 
twelve years after that monarch's death. Uniquely among this work's 
depictions, he alone boasts not only a turban, but also, balanced pre- 
cariously upon it, the crown of an emperor. Lonicer, Chronicorum Tur- 
cicorum, vol. I (in one binding), p. 34. 

Charles V and the Pope Clement VII. Woodcut images of Charles V's 
coronation ceremony in 1529 were circulated throughout Europe, and 
no Western observer could have missed the Ottoman sultan's challenge 
to the emperor's universalist claims in this choice of headgear. 

Factionalism and insurrection 109 

Whereas, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the Ottomans had 
borrowed some of the structures of the European state, under Siileyman 
they seem to have challenged the Catholic version of European history 
itself- to reimagine it as a vision that harkened back to the pre-Christian 
past and to fashion the Ottoman Empire rather than the papacy or the 
Holy Roman Empire as the rightful successor to Greek and Roman 
civilizations. Even though this attempt to refashion European history 
failed, the construct itself was not all that farfetched. Geographically it 
certainly made sense, and even historically what gave Germanic barbar- 
ians (whom Charles V represented) any more right to carry the banner 
of Rome than Turkic ones? Even ideologically, the Ottomans' case was 
strong: whereas Christianity claimed to have supplanted Judaism, fol- 
lowers of Islam insisted that it was the only pure monotheism, that it 
represented the Abrahamic faith, and that both Judaism and Christianity 
were merely badly corrupted versions of Islam. Under Siileyman, then, 
Ottoman authorities proposed to reinvent a Europe in the empire's own 
image, even as Protestantism was forcing western Europe to reinvent 

The Ottomans and the Christian schism of 1517 

Few of us associate the Ottoman Empire with the Reformation. It repre- 
sented a civil dispute within Christendom, and Christian states fought 
its wars and negotiated its peaces. Those of us who do consider the 
Ottomans tend to focus upon the realm of ideas. We embrace the image 
of the terrible Turk, the infidel whose intent was to destroy the Christian 
world and who did not bother to distinguish between Catholic, Calvinist, 
and Lutheran, a view that some contemporaries shared. 

Nevertheless, most early modern Christians had a much subtler and 
more sophisticated view of the Ottoman Empire than many of us ap- 
preciate. Even Martin Luther himself, who is known for his scathing 
malevolence against just about everyone - peasants, the papacy, Jews, 
and others — wrote with relative moderation about the Ottomans in his 
"On War Against the Turk."'^ It is certainly true that he believed that "the 
Turk. . . is the servant of the devil, who not only devastates land and peo- 
ple with the sword . . . but lays waste the Christian faith and our dear Lord 
Jesus Christ." Nevertheless, he never actually labels the Ottoman sultan 
an anti-Christ, as he does the Pope, or Turks as devils incarnate, as he does 
Jews. Luther in fact acknowledges that there exist those who "actually 

'^ Martin Luther, "On war against the Turk, 1529," in Luther's works. Vol. XLVI: The 
Christian in society. III (Philadelphia, 1957), pp. 155—205. 

110 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

want the Ttark to come and rule because they think our German people 
are wild and uncivilized - indeed that they are half-devil and half-man," 
and never bothers to rebuff this judgment on his countrymen. He further 
remarks that "although some praise the Turk's government because he al- 
lows every one to believe what he will so long as he remains temporal lord, 
yet this reputation is not true, for he does not allow Christians to come 
together in public,"^^ certainly a halfhearted condemnation at most. 

This appraisal came in 1529, even as Siileymanbesieged Vienna, whose 
fall seemed imminent. It was a moment in which one might have expected 
fear and loathing to grip Europe. Luther certainly expresses such emo- 
tions; but also perceptible in these passages and elsewhere in his text is a 
grudging esteem for a government that not only accorded to non-Catholic 
Christians the right to reside and worship but also was the arch-enemy 
of his own arch-enemies, the Pope and Holy Roman Emperor. Other re- 
ligious reformers reiterated Martin Luther's uncertainties. The principal 
paradox for all of them, perhaps, was that even though the Ottomans 
posed a dire threat to Christendom, and especially to the Christian state, 
nevertheless, it was the Catholic world — and above all its Pope, repre- 
sented by these same reformers as anti-Christ - that was most immedi- 
ately threatened. The Ottoman Empire pounded away at the "soft under- 
belly" of Charles V's empire, and it was Charles and his Pope who had 
sworn to force Luther, John Calvin, and other Protestants to renounce 
their convictions. Many Protestants understood that only the Ottoman 
diversion stood between them and obliteration. 

The actions of European states and representatives of various Chris- 
tian denominations should further moderate and partially belie our ex- 
pressions of universal venom against the "Turk." If the rise of the Italian 
city-state augured the political breakup of Christendom, Martin Luther's 
posting of his ninety-nine theses in 1517 signified its ideological fragmen- 
tation, and ushered in over a century of religious wars. Both the Holy 
Roman Emperor Charles V and the French king Francis were fully en- 
gaged in these wars, even as they contended with the Ottomans. The 
rulers were bitter rivals, however, and their methods of dealing with the 
"terrible Turk" were wholly opposed: Charles over and over again at- 
tacked Siileyman's realm in both the Mediterranean Sea and the Balkans 
even as Francis negotiated alliances with him, in 1535 going so far as to 
sign a short-lived commercial and military agreement with the sultan. It 
is certain that the Ottoman threat as much as dynastic claims and polit- 
ical ambitions in Italy distracted Charles V from his declared intent of 
crushing the Protestant revolt to his north. 

'' Luther, "On war against the Turk," pp. 174-75. 

Factionalism and insurrection 111 

The Ottoman government was aware of and exploited this tear in 
the fabric of Christendom. Its experiences in Hungary and Transylvania 
were only the most direct of that state's involvement in the religious dis- 
putes. Siileyman wrote at least one letter urging the Protestant princes of 
Germany to hold firm and cooperate with the French against Charles V; 
the Ottoman government continued to support the Calvinists not only 
in Transylvania and Hungary, but also in France; and cooperation with 
France led to the wintering of an Ottoman fleet in French Toulon in 
1543 and the attachment of a French artillery unit to the Ottoman army 
in Hungary. During those troubled decades, the empire also became a 
haven for the religiously oppressed. In the mid seventeenth century, for 
example, a cluster of Huguenots, forced into exile from France, resided 
in Istanbul, and several Anglican clergymen who had fled commonwealth 
England, Quakers, Anabaptists, and even Catholic Jesuits and Capuchins 
settled in and wandered through the empire. 

Such an eclectic mixture of Christians suggests that North America 
was not the only refuge for western European religious dissenters in the 
early colonial period. Indeed, it was generally understood that spiritually 
oppressed Christians as well as Jews could find sanctuary in the Ottoman 
Empire. As early as 1529, Luther was aware of the relative moderation 
of Ottoman society, despite his grumblings that Christians could not 
worship openly there. By the 1580s, a thinker such as Jean Bodin could 
write in open admiration about this aspect of Ottoman society: 

The great emperour of the Turkes doth with as great devotion as any prince in 
the world honour and observe the religion by him received from his auncestours, 
and yet detesteth hee not the straunge religions of others; but to the contrarie 
permitteth every man to live according to his conscience: yea and that more is, 
neere unto his pallace at Pera, suffereth foure divers religions, viz. That of the 
Jews, that of the Christians, that of the Grecians, and that of the Mohametanes.''' 

Bodin held the empire up as a model of religious toleration, an assess- 
ment with which some even today would agree. The claim is sometimes 
made that minorities in the Islamic state constructed by the Ottomans 
lived more comfortably and with less fear than they did in rival European 
states, and even than they do in the modern secular state. Compared with 
other seventeenth-century states such as the Habsburgs, the French, the 
Venetian, or the Russian this argument certainly holds, and it probably 

'* Kenneth Douglas McRae (ed.), The six bookes of a commonweale (Cambridge, 1962), 
book 6, p. 537. On Bodin's and other early modern attitudes toward the Ottomans, 
see Hentsch, Imagining the Middle East, pp. 49-76. A persuasive article on western 
European attitudes more generally is Ash Cirakman, "From tyranny to despotism: the 
Enlightenment's unenlightened image of the Turks," International Journal of Middle East 
5mi!i;i 33.1(2001): 49-68. 

112 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

also is valid in comparison with those modern nation states that define cit- 
izenship exclusively in fabricated categories of ethnicity, race, or religion. 
Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to generalize Bodin's observation to 
include every polity. For example, it is difficult to imagine a Christian or a 
Jew willingly giving up the guarantees of constitutional equality that many 
modern democracies provide for the structurally guaranteed inequalities 
of an Ottoman millet or taife. It is no easier to visualize a Muslim willingly 
becoming a second-class citizen in a Christian or Jewish state. '^ 

Crisis at the turn of the seventeenth century 

The impression that Siileyman represented the zenith of Ottoman capac- 
ity, and that all that followed was decline, persists today. The stubborn- 
ness of this vision derives partly from an association of the Ottomans with 
the Habsburg Empire, which certainly divided (even if it did not utterly 
collapse) soon after Charles V's death, and partly from the rising power 
of France, England, and other European states that were to force the 
entire Mediterranean world into a secondary role. The insistence of sev- 
eral late sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Ottoman writers that their 
state indeed was becoming aged and feeble has lent documentary evi- 
dence to this argument. Mustafa AH writing in the 1590s, Pegevi writing 
in the 1630s, and especially such critics as Kogu Bey, who "counseled" 
(nasihat) Murad IV about the inadequacies of their state, all warn of a 
rise in corruption, a decline in lawfulness, and a failure of leadership in 
the post-Siileymanic empire. 

Many of these works hint that Siileyman himself ushered in this dete- 
rioration - with his jealousy-driven execution of his grand vizier Ibrahim, 
his scandalous marriage to the concubine Hurrem, and his aberrant mur- 
der of his son Mustafa (although Siileyman's own father Selim may have 
established a precedent for this act by deposing /zw own father Bayezid and 
allegedly murdering Siileyman's brothers). Nevertheless, these authors 
believed that the imperial household became even more dysfunctional in 
the decades after this sultan's death. It abandoned the tradition of impe- 
rial fratricide in favor of debilitating confinement, it allowed power to seep 
away from the sultan and into the hands of members of his family and 
counselors, and it began appointing and dismissing officials on the basis 

'' The word millet is controversial. See Benjamin Braude, "Foundation myths of the millet 
system," in Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Empire: the functioning of a plural society. 
Vol. I: The central lands, ed. Benjamin Braude and Bernard Lewis (New York, 1982), 
pp. 69—88; "Millet," EI; and Daniel Goffman, "Ottoman millets in the early seventeenth 
century," New Perspectives on Turkey 11(1994): 135-58. 

Factionalism and insurrection 113 

of favoritism rather than merit. The chronicler Pegevi implicitly censures 
leadership in the sixty years since Siileyman's death on just these grounds 
when he writes: "in his reign, no holder of a government post, no military 
or judicial appointee, was dismissed without good cause . . .Accordingly, 
all officials acted with justice and moderation for fear of losing all chance 
of further employment."^^ For Pe^evi, Naimi, and many other Ottoman 
statesmen and scholars, it was principally a deterioration of leadership 
that diluted power, engendered corruption, bankrupted the treasury, 
dragged the empire into ruinous wars, devastatingly inflated the currency, 
diluted and undermined the janissary corps, and generally enfeebled the 
Ottoman state. 

Modern-day historians did not quickly repudiate this tale of decline; 
rather, they turned it on its head. In other words, poor leadership often 
has been envisioned as a symptom rather than a cause of more structural 
difficulties such as inflation caused by the influx of silver from the New 
World, changes in military technology, and the creation of a new type of 
state in western Europe. According to much of the scholarship of the late 
twentieth century, many Ottoman institutions - the janissary corps, the 
provincial leadership, the sultanate itself - suffered in the state's efforts 
to react to such largely external and underlying transformations. 

The Ottoman state began to manifest the strains of persistent and 
multi-fronted warfare in the 1570s and 1580s. The need to mobilize ever- 
larger numbers of ill-trained mariners and infantry troops was among the 
most apparent symptoms. The devastating loss of a whole generation of 
mariners and archers at Lepanto in 1571, for example, necessitated the 
hurried recruitment of ill-prepared replacement archers and less effec- 
tive musketeers. Even more disruptively, long and bloody wars against 
the Habsburg and Safavid Empires broke the well-designed organiza- 
tion for the enrollment and training of janissary troops and forced the 
Ottoman government not only to hurry janissary instruction, increase 
the numbers entering the corps, and begin allowing even born Muslims 
to enroll, but also to supplement these troops with irregulars. Between the 
1 560s and the 1 630s, for example, the number of janissaries in active ser- 
vice rose from about 16,000 to some 40,000. Supporting and gradually 
replacing them both in the navy and on military fronts were infantry- 
men hurriedly recruited and trained in the use of firearms, but oblivious 
to the complicated codes of conduct that historically had restrained and 
emboldened the Ottoman military establishment. 

'' Ibrahim Pe9evi, Tarih-i Pefevi; as quoted in Wbodhead, "Perspectives on Siileyman," 
p. 165. 

114 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

Map 5 This crude, almost cartoonish, drawing of a janissary seems 
more comic than chilling. Still, his weapons and bearing do suggest a 
capacity for violence. Helffrich, Kurtzer und warhajftiger Bericht. 

Factionalism and insurrection 115 

One of the most dramatic of the many consequences of this military 
expansion was monetary.'^ Unlike the Ottoman cavalry, which lived off 
the land for much of the year, the government had to barrack and pay the 
infantry directly out of the imperial treasury. As the janissary corps and 
its auxiliaries grew, the treasury became more and more strained. One 
result was chronic inflation of the Ottoman silver coins (a consequence 
of an abundance of silver from the Americas as well as the government's 
policy of recalling coinage and paying its troops in debased money). '^ 
A second effect was growing pressure upon the authorities to generate 
increased revenue, which eventually led to the overthrow of the timar 
system and its replacement with a series of innovative direct taxes and 
tax farms. A third consequence was a proliferation of firearms and the 
increased availability of those trained to use them, because their drain 
upon the treasury compelled the Ottomans to discharge auxiliary troops 
as quickly as possible. 

Renovation at the turn of the seventeenth century 

All of these transformations tended toward a decentralization of Ottoman 
authority. Price rises stimulated the creation of a cash economy and 
helped encourage regional commerce (thereby encouraging the rise of 
provincial centers to rival Istanbul); increasing expenditures helped shift 
tax collection into private hands, especially through the farming out of 
taxes in order to raise cash quickly for campaigns. It was the last of 
these changes, however - the pervasive distribution of firearms — that 
most directly and profoundly affected Ottoman subjects, as the following 
imperial decree issued in 1587 illustrates: "The governor of Sugla and 
the kadi of Ayasolug collected one-thousand firearms from brigands and 
mariners in the area. They are now being stored in the castle of Ayasolug. 
My imperial armory urgently needs these firearms . . . You should send 
them immediately."^^ This command not only suggests how the release 
of thousands of young men into the Anatolian countryside quickly cre- 
ated a public-order crisis, but also how desperately the Ottoman army, 
locked in combat as it was in the 1580s with Habsburg and Safavid troops, 
needed this materiel of early modern warfare. 

'^ On these and other consequences of the changes in warfare, see Halil Inalcik, "Military 
and fiscal transformation in the Ottoman Empire, 1600-1700," Archivum Ottomanicum 
6(1980): 283-337. On Ottoman monetary history, we now have §evketPamuk's exhaus- 
tive A monetary history of the Ottoman Empire (Cambridge, 2000). 

'^ But see also Sevket Pamuk, "The price revolution in the Ottoman Empire reconsidered," 
International Journal of Middle East Studies 33.1(2001): 68—89. 

" Basbakanlik Osmanli Arsivi (Prime Minister's Archives), Istanbul, Turkey, Miihimme 
Defterleri (Registers of important events) 64, p. 95. 

116 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

Unfortunately for the government, however, it was not simply a matter 
of confiscating muskets from ruffians and transferring them to the army. 
There also were issues of civil and personal security. In 1 593, for example, 
the inhabitants of Urla, a western-Anatolian coastal village, presented a 
petition to the imperial government: 

The people in Urla pleaded "we live on the frontier and the ships of the misbeliev- 
ers have come many times and plundered our province. It is likely that they will 
come again. We need firearms in order to protect our property." This situation 
is confirmed. It seems both useful and good that the inhabitants of Urla and its 
surrounding villages retain their firearms ... As for the rest, you should take their 
firearms for the state. But repeat the warning to the inhabitants of Urla that they 
must not give their firearms to outlaws.^" 

Such petitions suggest a dilemma for the Ottoman government that 
should resonate especially in modern America: what rights should sub- 
jects have to bear arms? The Ottoman answer to this question was simple 
for non-Muslims; they already were denied that right according to Islamic 
law. Islam, however, not only allowed but also insisted upon that same 
right for believers, so that the Muslim could pursue his religious duty to 
battle the infidel, which is exactly what the inhabitants of Urla claimed 
to be doing. So, Istanbul had little choice but to allow Muslim subjects 
to bear arms in Urla and elsewhere in the empire, which of course en- 
couraged the dissemination of firearms and an increase in brigandage and 
violent crimes. 

It also was one of several factors that drained power away from the 
central government. Sometimes, warlords and provincial notables began 
drawing upon the flood of footloose young soldiers to create body- 
guards or even personal armies that at times grew large enough to 
challenge imperial armies, as happened in western Anatolia. At other 
times, it was traditional leaders who mounted challenges against the cen- 
tral authorities. One of the most serious such threats occurred at the 
turn of the seventeenth century when the Kurdish commander Hiiseyin 
Canpulatoglu first worked in and out of Ottoman administration as the 
governor of Aleppo before being executed, at which time his vengeful 
nephew AH mounted an effective rebellion against the state. AH managed 
to sustain his revolt for two years; he controlled much of northern Syria, 
negotiated with and guaranteed protection to foreign communities in 
Aleppo, and was finally defeated in 1607 when the Ottomans raised an 
entire army against him.^' 

^^ Basbakanlik Osmanli Arsivi, Miihimine Defterleri 71, no. 653. 

^' Bruce Masters, "Aleppo: the Ottoman Empire's caravan city," in Eldem, Goffman, and 
Masters, Ottoman city, pp. 30-31. 

Factionalism and insurrection 117 

Such rebellions occurred throughout the empire in the early seven- 
teenth century. They are striking in part because their instigators almost 
never sought the establishment of new regimes. Rather than demanding 
independence, for example, AH accepted the governorship of Aleppo from 
the same state that had had his uncle executed. Most of these strongmen 
simply coveted larger roles in administration and decisionmaking within 
the empire — sometimes on behalf of themselves and sometimes on behalf 
of their people (the question of identity, then, could become an important 
consideration in these disputes). They considered the crisis at the center 
an opportunity to wrest some authority away from Istanbul. 

There were other types of rebellions that shook the early seventeenth- 
century Ottoman world. Young, idle students (softas) from religious 
schools (medreses) participated in anti-governmental activities in many 
cities during the early decades of the century, with Istanbul itself be- 
coming a center for such unrest. Here, a theologian named Mehmed of 
Birgi and his student, Kadizade Mehmed, condemned various Ottoman 
"innovative" practices such as the attribution of healing and other pow- 
ers to the tombs of the dead, the establishment of religious endowments, 
the drinking of wine and coffee and the smoking of tobacco, and espe- 
cially the many Sufi orders that weaved through the fabric of Ottoman 
society. Mehmed of Birgi even criticized the fetvas of Suleyman's influ- 
ential §eyhulislam Ebu's-Su'ud, and his disciple took on the entire reli- 
gious establishment. As a Friday preacher and a powerful public speaker, 
Kadizade Mehmed rapidly rose through the most important postings, 
until in 1631 he achieved the imamship of Hagia Sofia, the sultan's own 
mosque. His sermons emphasized the evils of innovation, often quoting 
such Prophetic traditions as "every innovation is heresy, every heresy is 
error, and every error leads to hell." This fiery activist urged his followers 
to cast off the accretions of time and myriad civilizations, and restore the 
Prophet Muhammed's community of believers. ^^ 

The kadizadelis (followers of Kadizade) proved themselves as great 
an ideological infiuence as provincial rebellions were military and po- 
litical ones. As mosque preachers they certainly felt threatened by the en- 
croachments of Sufi tekkes, coffeehouses, and taverns upon the mosque as 
hubs of communal life and social and political activism. Both coffee and 
tobacco had established themselves in the empire relatively recently,^^ and 
in this arena the kadizadelis received support from the sultan Murad IV, 
who mounted several harsh if futile campaigns against them. The dispute 

See Madeline C. Zilfi, The politics of piety: the Ottoman ulema in the postclassical age 
(1600-1800) (Minneapolis, 1988), especially pp. 129-37. 
^^ On coffee in particular, see Ralph S. Hattox, Coffee and coffeehouses: the origins of a social 
beverage in the medieval Near East (Seattle, 1985). 

118 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

Map 5 Murad IV (1523-40) is the best known of seventeenth-century 
sultans. He ruled during the most troubled years of Ottoman political 
transformation. Happel, Thesaurus exoticorum, sec. 4, following p. 14. 

Factionalism and insurrection 119 

even became a cause celebre, and made bitter grist for such pundits as the 
§eyhulislam Zekeriyazade Yahya, who castigated the kadizadelis with the 
couplet: "In the mosque let hypocrites have their hypocrisy. /Come to 
the tavern where neither pretense nor pretender be."^^ 

Despite such critiques, the kadizadelis' apprehensions were not merely 
self-serving. Many of them thought both the Ottoman military and high 
Ottoman society inept and morally bankrupt, and envisioned the recur- 
ring debacles on the battlefield as well as the persistent palace scandals 
as manifestations of a turn away from true Islam. In important ways, 
they constituted a forerunner to Islamic reformers in later centuries who, 
whether Ottoman, Egyptian, Wahhabi, or Iranian, consistently have ar- 
gued that the West has defeated Islamic states only because their os- 
tensibly Muslim leaders have forgotten their religious roots. Bring back 
the Muhammedan state, they all argue, and Islam will again take up its 
leading rank in the world order. 

In the mid seventeenth century, though, spiritual disquietude extended 
beyond Islam. For example, the Ottoman Jewish world collapsed into 
ideological and social turmoil in the 1650s and 1660s when a charis- 
matic and enigmatic person named Sabbatai Sevi proclaimed himself 
messiah.^^ Sevi had grown up in Izmir, at that time a town of unmatched 
demographic and economic vitality, and social and intellectual edginess. 
Not only was this individual intellectually gifted and probably a manic- 
depressive, but a gamut of blasphemous notions pounded him from sev- 
eral directions and helped him formulate his own peculiar theosophy. 
Most obviously, Jewish mysticism, especially a particularly accessible and 
popular form know as Lurianic kabbalah, was esteemed and almost uni- 
versally studied in this period. Sevi became enamored with this system 
of belief. The young mystic also may have combined such ideas with 
notions from deviant Sufi orders, with which he probably had contact 
in that volatile world. Furthermore, Sevi's own father and brother were 
brokers for English factors stationed in Izmir, and it seems likely that he 
heard from them of an England absorbed in its own religious upheaval. 

Sevi, his principal "prophet" Nathan of Gaza, and their followers com- 
bined these ideas to concoct an eschatological theosophy that resonated 
throughout the Jewish world. When in 1665 his message finally was 
accepted after fifteen years of futile and wandering preaching, the vast 
majority of Jews everywhere embraced him as the messiah. In commu- 
nities as distant as Amsterdam and Hamburg, Jews began to sell their 

^'' As quoted in Zilfi, Politics of piety, p. 177. 

^' On whom see Gershom Scholem, Sabbatai Sevi: the mystical Messiah, 1626-1676, trans. 

J. Zwi Werblowsky (Princeton, NJ, 1973). For the Ottoman context, see Avigdor Levy, 

Sephardim, pp. 84-89. 

120 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

goods and prepare to depart for Jerusalem. As Gliickel of Hameln, who 
lived in Hamburg at that time, reports: 

Many sold their houses and lands and all their possessions, for any day they hoped 
to be redeemed. My good father-in-law left his home in Hameln, abandoned his 
house and lands and all his goodly furniture, and moved to Hildesheim. He sent 
on to us in Hamburg two enormous casks packed with linens and with peas, 
beans, dried meats, shredded prunes and like stuff, every manner of food that 
would keep. For the old man expected to sail any moment from Hamburg to the 
Holy Land.^o 

If Sevi had such an influence even at the northwest fringe of the Jewish 
world, at its Ottoman center the near universality of such zeal triggered 
a real social and ideological crisis. Ottoman Jewish zeal also paralyzed 
commerce and set off an economic crisis in the empire at large. 

The Ottoman government responded to such unrest in the state's cities 
and rural districts in various ways. As we have seen, it often attempted to 
accommodate the demands of rebellious chieftains and provincial gover- 
nors and absorb them into administration. Many high officials met the 
first large wave of kadizadeli protests - which occurred in the 1630s - 
sympathetically. Murad IV even worked with Kadizade Mehmed to sup- 
press some of the most blatant displays of luxury and aberrant behavior. 
A second great wave of agitation against the Sufi orders occurred in the 
1 650s. The kadizadelis at first succeeded in persuading the §eyhulislam to 
issue decrees against various Sufi lodges; in 1656, however, the newly 
appointed grand vizier Kopriilii Mehmed ordered their leaders rounded 
up and exiled to Cyprus. The organization never fully recovered from 
this blow. A decade later, Mehmed Pasha's son, Ahmed, contended with 
turmoil among the empire's Jews by first imprisoning Sabbatai Sevi, 
and then giving him a choice of conversion to Islam or death. The 
messianic figure chose to preserve his life, which quickly quenched his 

One of the more effective and ultimately far-reaching governmental re- 
sponses to social and political unrest was to station garrisons of janissary 
troops in city fortresses and employ them against crime and civil disorder. 
As early as the 1590s, for example, the state ordered janissaries posted 
in the castle of Fo^a on the western Anatolian coast onto vessels car- 
rying fruits and vegetables to Istanbul to ensure that the produce was 
not diverted elsewhere. It also ordered teams of janissaries to patrol gar- 
dens and villages and to confiscate hoarded foodstuff.^^ Although the 

^* The memoirs of Gliickel of Hameln, trans. Marvin Lowenthal (New York, 1977), p. 46. 
^^ Basbakanhk Osmanli Arsivi, Miihimme Defteri 72, p. 202; and 71, p. 230. 

Factionalism and insurrection 121 

government's intent was to guarantee adequate supplies of provisions for 
the palace and capital city, such policies produced unintended conse- 
quences. Some of these janissaries soon settled into the local economies 
and societies, as was the case with several corpsmen in the western 
Anatolian town of Seferihisar who in 1617 not only refused to join a 
military campaign, but also used their status to insert themselves into 
the local economy as "butchers, bakers, and market people."^^ They also 
married into their new communities and found ways to pass on their 
privileges to their heirs. 

In the long run, such policies helped to convert an effective army into 
little more than an incompetent police force, the aspect of the adjustment 
that historians have tended to emphasize. The insertion of the janissary 
corps into the body politic, however, also diffused loyalties and produced 
a new and potent elite in many Ottoman cities. The janissaries were able 
to use their rights as members of the askeri not only to maintain their 
ties with the regime but also to control local associations of artisans and 
municipalities. They probably encouraged the development of a sophis- 
ticated civil society, often became effective mediators between local and 
central authorities, and helped ensure that decentralized authority did 
not spawn political fragmentation. 

Indeed, it was under Siileyman that a process began that reversed the 
movement toward monarchical absolutism, gradually stripped the sultan 
of power (if not authority), and by the 1660s had turned the Ottoman 
state into a type of oligarchy in which the sultan ruled only titularly. 
This political makeover was set in motion at the highest levels with 
the routine of marrying imperial daughters to Ottoman statesmen. The 
convention of doing so had been in place since the late fifteenth cen- 
tury. Under Siileyman, however, began the habitual marriages between 
imperial women and the most powerful administrators in the empire. 
Siileyman had nine grand viziers: three of them married his sisters, one 
married his daughter, and two married his granddaughters (of the other 
three, one was aged, the second was a notorious profligate, and the 
third was a eunuch). ^^ This peculiar domestic arrangement that literally 
wedded statesmen to royalty became policy in the seventeenth century. 
Although it certainly encouraged the factionalization and politicization 
of the imperial household, it also provided wider access to the palace 
and, through linkage with the sultan's family, helped ensure that even the 
most powerful vizierial households would remain loyal and that centrifu- 
gal tendencies might stretch, but could not break, the Ottoman polity. 

^^ Basbakanlik Osmanli Arsivi, Miihimine Defteri 81, no. 367. 

^' Peirce, Imperial harem, pp. 66-67. Her discussion of the specifics of these policies is 
fascinating and enlightening. 












































































1— 1 



























G . 



ra en 

6 oo 




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l4H OJ 







Factionalism and insurrection 123 

If not decline, then what? 

One tenet of the "decline paradigm," as applied to monarchies, is that the 
realm reflects the ruler; in other words, a weak central government by def- 
inition denotes a feeble society, and an incompetent monarch must pull 
his kingdom down with him. Consequently, the rise of the decentralized 
state - that is, the emergence of tax farmers, provincial elites, and cities 
that rivaled Istanbul -becomes merely a symptom of a state and society in 
crisis because the "great man" who heads it lacks ability. In part because 
of the emergence of social history and its concern with long-term causa- 
tion, in the 1950s and 1960s Ottoman historians began to question this 
precept, and looked beyond the sultan for causes of decline.^" Even more 
recently, and perhaps because of the widespread fear of big government 
and bureaucratization that marks modern society and its acceptance of 
devolution and privatization as viable options to centralization, historians 
have begun to question whether this early modern empire ever declined 
at all.3i 

If defeats on the battlefield, ostensibly insane sultans, scandals in the 
imperial household, threats from kadizadelis and other reactionaries, 
rebellions in the provinces, chronically mutinous janissaries, and wide- 
spread bribery were not symptoms of decay, then what were they? Some 
have argued that they manifested not decline at all, but rather a series of 
crises, many of which were resolved in ways that actually strengthened 
the empire. We know that the empire did collapse in the early twentieth 
century, this line of reasoning goes, and our search for the roots of 
that inevitable descent to extinction has led us to privilege the idea of 
Ottoman decline to the exclusion of other phenomena and opposing 

It has been suggested, for example, that the chronic financial shortfalls 
that seemed to have crippled the empire from the late sixteenth century 
also obliged the government to find creative ways to raise money, such 
as an increasingly elaborate system of tax farming and new direct taxes, 
and to reassess and attempt to supplant an obsolete land-tenure system 
that supported a decreasingly effective but politically infiuential cavalry. 
Supporters of this conjecture further claim that tax farming not only 
reformed collection, but also opened up the ruling class (the askeri) 
to much-needed new blood and new ideas, for some merchants and 

'" A good summary is in Norman Itzkowitz, Ottoman Empire and Islamic tradition (Chicago, 

^' The most persuasive presentation of these ideas (even though focusing on the eigh- 
teenth rather than seventeenth century) is Ariel Salzmann, "An ancien regime revisited: 
'privatization' and political economy in the eighteenth-century Ottoman Empire," Politics 
and Society 21{1993): 393-423. 

124 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

provincial notables were able to use the access to the elite that tax farms 
and other innovations provided to move into it.^^ This view is very dif- 
ferent from the familiar claim that tax farming's principal consequences 
were to weaken central authority and to exploit and demoralize Ottoman 
subjects (the reaya). 

The canonical account of the imperial household during the early sev- 
enteenth century also has lately been amended. ^^ This period has long 
been referred to as "the sultanate of the women," because of the appar- 
ently extraordinary power of the sultan's mother, his sisters, his daugh- 
ters, and other female members of his household that resulted from the 
seclusion of princes in the harem and a diffusion of power. The phrase 
was meant pejoratively; it was not overlooked that these women presided 
over the palace just as decline was considered to have settled in. The 
implication is clear: the empire rotted at its core when it relinquished 
authority into the hands of women (and especially "foreign" women, as 
so many of the wives, favorites, and servants were). 

Take for example the role of the sultan's mother {valide sultan), who 
has been roundly condemned for drawing power from the sultan. One 
Englishman observed that Safiye Sultan, mother of Mehmed III, "was 
ever in fauor and wholy ruled her sonne: notwithstanding the Mufti 
and souldiers had much compleyned of her to ther king for misleading 
and Ruling him."^^ Many voices, both Ottoman and foreign, echoed 
this condemnation of female meddling in politics; many commentators 
both contemporary and modern considered the trend ruinous. There 
is another way to consider the situation, however. The imperial prince's 
mother's principal task long had been the training and protection of 
her son. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, her job was finished 
when her well-prepared and grown-up offspring defeated his brothers 
and gained the sultanate. In the seventeenth century, however, when her 
ill-prepared son often became sultan despite youth or the incompetence 
spawned by a life of seclusion, it can be argued that it was appropriate 
that the valide sultan remain as his guide. 

Some Ottomans certainly realized this important role. Mustafa AH for 
one wrote of this same Safiye Sultan: 

Though the sultan does not condone oppression, his viziers . . . bring unworthy 
ones into service and destroy the order of the world by bribe-taking. They do not 

^^ Suraiya Faroqhi, "Politics and socio-economic change in the Ottoman Empire of 
the later sixteenth century," in Kunt and Woodhead (eds.), Siileyman the Magnificent, 
pp. 105-6. 

^^ Especially by Peirce, Imperial harem. 

''* Henry Lello, The report of LellolLello'nun Muhttrasi, ed. O. Burian (Ankara, 1952), p. 2; 
as quoted in Peirce, Imperial harem, p. 242. 

Factionalism and insurrection 125 

tell the sultan the truth, . . . Do they imagine it will be easier for them if, fearing 
his anger, they tell the valide sultan} She would never allow such disruption of 
order or such affairs to besmirch the reputation of her dear son.'^ 

Ali does not reject the hypothesis that the government was rotten; he does 
though deflect its origin away from the sultan's mother and household. 
For him, the fault lies with venal retainers and the corrupt Ottoman 

The sultan's mother may be seen as acting almost as a regent, simply 
continuing the service she had provided as trusted counselor while her 
son was a prince. Despite being condemned because it brought women 
to power, the system provided the state with stability and protected the 
throne far more effectively and reliably than did regents such as Mazarin 
and Richelieu during Louis XIV's minority or Ibrahim Pasha under the 
young Siileyman. Not only would no one doubt a mother's loyalty to 
the monarch, but the scheme kept power within that most important 
of Ottoman social units - the family. Consequently, it has been argued, 
not only did the empire survive, but the state weathered such structural 
adjustments and grew more resilient because of them. 

A similar case can be argued in regard to Istanbul's interaction with 
its provinces. Anatolia, the Arab lands, and the Balkans directly and dra- 
matically felt the consequences of decentralization, as the power to tax 
and make decisions spun out of the hands of the central state and into the 
possession of its agents and local notables and merchants. Again, these 
consequences, it long has been argued, weakened the Ottoman state and 
made life more difficult for its subjects. This summation, perhaps because 
of our suspicion ofbig government today, also has been challenged. Was it 
such a bad thing that Istanbul lost some decisionmaking power? The rise 
of a more complex and localized political structure in cities such as Aleppo 
and Izmir granted provincial authorities, merchants, even foreigners and 
farmers, a role in the management of their cities and communities. Izmir, 
for example, could establish itself as an entrepot only when Istanbul be- 
came unable to reserve the produce of its hinterland for itself and was 
forced to relinquish to local notables decisions about what was grown and 
for whom. The tremendous wealth that this city ultimately generated, not 
least for the imperial treasury, may not have materialized under a strongly 
centralized state. Izmir is only one of many examples of such innovations 
in the provinces during the period of "decline." 

Even culturally, most scholars have imagined early modern Ottoman 
civilization as sterile and derivative rather than creative and productive. 
The standards against which the empire is judged in such evaluations of 

^' Peirce, Imperial harem, p. 239. 

126 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

course are all western European: the intellectual revolution of the Italian 
renaissance, the military revolution that helped usher in the nation state, 
the scientific revolution, the American and French democratic revolu- 
tions, and the English industrial revolution. It is certainly true that the 
Ottomans came up with nothing comparable to the theory of gravity or the 
steam engine or constitutional democracy. Nevertheless, there are other 
measures for creativity and achievement than the western European ones. 
Those who embrace diversity and multiculturalism in the early twenty- 
first century, for example, must admire the enduring Ottoman aptitude 
for cobbling together myriad ways of life into something dynamic and 
original, even as western Europe invented the exclusive identities that 
helped propel it toward modern nationalism and imperialism, and then 
spawned modern racism, economic exploitation, and genocide. This ten- 
dency toward eclecticism, which was so noticeable in the emirate's first 
decades, persisted into the empire's mature years. In social life, it is seen in 
the continuing vigor of non-Muslim subject communities; in scholarship, 
it is evidenced in the conscious borrowings of Mustafa AH and others from 
Arabic, Persian, and central Asian traditions;^^ in architecture, the public 
constructions of Sinan, who designed and supervised the raising of over 
100 mosques, and his followers exploited and triumphantly transcended 
Byzantine and Seljuk traditions; and in poetry, Baki in the sixteenth cen- 
tury and Na'ili in the seventeenth both vividly adapted Persian forms and 
imageries to their own times and cultures. Na'ili produced such evocative 
and fatalistic gazels as: 

The simple-minded, who hope for 

kindness from the sphere, 
Hope also for intoxication from an 

overturned wine cup. 
Let the one who seeks benefit from the 

decrees of the sphere. 
Be the one who hopes for tasty food 

from a handful of straw.^^ 

Na'ili here and elsewhere proves himself as skilled a poet as his more 
illustrious predecessor Baki, using established forms to evoke razor-sharp 
and original associations and sensations. Despite his vividness, he unjustly 
has shared obscurity with many of his contemporaries simply because 
he wrote during a time of assumed Ottoman decay, obscurantism, and 

Fleischer, Bureaucrat and intellectual^ pp. 273—92. 
^^ Walter Feldman, "The Celestial Sphere, the Wheel of Fortune, and fate in the gazels of 
Na'ili and Baki," International Journal of Middle East Studies 28(1996): 207-8. 

Factionalism and insurrection 127 

The fact remains that the empire did in the end collapse, and that per- 
haps at first a malaise and then a decline must at some point have settled in 
before the final dissolution. Nevertheless, we can at least try to contextu- 
alize this hard reality by recollecting that the historian always has the ad- 
vantage of hindsight. We need to remember that until after the First World 
War, the Ottoman Empire still existed. For someone living in 1669, for 
example, it surely seemed more likely that Italy rather than the Ottoman 
Empire would disintegrate; for someone living in 1789 it seemed more 
likely that France would cease to exist than that the Ottomans would do 
so; and even for someone living in 1919 it still must have seemed prob- 
able that some truncated Ottoman entity would endure. It makes good 
sense, I think, to conceive the early modern Ottoman world broadly as a 
multi-faceted entity rather than narrowly as a state embarking on a long 
death march, to insist that rot in some of its components did not mean 
consuming decay, and may even have refiected brilliance onto other fea- 
tures of the state and society. In other words, we need to understand that 
the decline model is not so much wrong as entirely insufficient; it con- 
ceals behind its visage simply too much that was creative, enduring, and 

Part 2 

The Ottoman Empire in the 
Mediterranean and European worlds 

Kubad in Venice 

The Venetians have no king, but their form of rule is a commune. This 
means that they agree on a man whom they appoint to rule over them 
by their unanimous consent. The Venetians (Banddiqa) are called 
Finisin. Their emblem is a human figure with a face which they 
believed to be that of Mark, one of the Apostles. The man who rules 
over them comes from one of the noted families among them.' 

No one outside of the imperial council knew of Kubad (^avu§'s secret instruc- 
tions, and so he officially traveled to Venice as the representative not so much 
of his monarch or even his grand vizier, but of Joseph di Segura, an affluent 
and influential Jewish merchant of Istanbul. Kubad much resented having 
to travel in the company of di Segura's son to the capital of the mysterious 
Venetian Empire, particularly since the long-standing treaty between the two 
powers had not yet been renewed after Suleyman's death while on military 
campaign in Hungary. The envoy now knew that the Ottoman government 
might not extend the agreement but instead was considering an invasion of the 
Venetian colony of Cyprus. Should that occur the bailo certainly would spend 
the war in an Ottoman prison; was there any doubt that the Venetians would 
take advantage of Kubad's presence to retaliate? 

After an uneventful three-week sea passage — including a brief layover on 
the island of Chios which only the previous year had embraced the Abode of 
Islam and where the envoy delivered an imperial firman directing the new 
commander of Chios town's stronghold to stop beleaguering the island's inhab- 
itants with demands for money and services — Kubad disembarked at Venice 
in late October 1567. There he spurned both the palatial quarters provided 

' Shihab al-Din al-'Umari, al-Ta'rtf bil-mustalaht al-sharif (Cairo, 1312 A.H.), p. 80; as 
quoted in Bernard Lewis, The Muslim discovery of Europe (New York, 1 982), p. 211. 

^ On the envoy's journeys to Venice, see Arbel, Trading nations, pp. 135-40. 

^ On the question of "distance" in the early modern Mediterranean world, and the advan- 
tages and disadvantages of sea over land travel, see Kurt W. Treptow, "Distance and com- 
munications in southeastern Europe, 1593—1612," East European Quarterly 24.4(1991): 
475-82. The author concludes that most couriers preferred the more reliable and secure 
if longer (perhaps forty or so days) overland route from Istanbul to Edirne, up the Maritsa 
River (by boat), Philippopolis, Pristina, Hercegovina, Cattaro, and (by boat) Venice, to 


1 32 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

to honored guests by the Venetian government and the cramped and secluded 
housing offered by his compatriot Muslims, and instead took lavish shelter in 
a mansion rented by some of the Seguras' relatives on the serpentine island of 
Giudecca (Long Spine in the local patois). The envoy almost immediately 
attained an audience with the Signory, the small body of powerful Venetians 
led by the doge. The favu? recognized that such an interview was compa- 
rable to an audience in the Imperial Divan. He also realized that although 
the Venetian heads of state had had years to study and learn the manners 
of his master the grand vizier Sokollu Mehmed Pasha, they were still trying 
to fathom Selim II's character. The Venetians had no idea how he. Sultan 
Suleyman's successor, would react to a loss of merchandise and feared that the 
new padishah in retribution might lash out at Venetian shipping and ports in the 

Kubad cannily concealed the awful truth that such a plan already was 
afoot and that a powerful faction was opposing the cautious grand vizier him- 
self by counseling an all-out assault upon Cyprus, one of the last two major 
Venetian outposts in the eastern Mediterranean. Instead he exploited Venetian 
uncertainty to carry out his grand vizier's orders. The Ottoman envoy did not 
again have to visit the Signory; the Venetian government instead came to him 
at his residency on Giudecca island in the person ofAlvise Grimani, a member 
of a powerful Venetian family. Kubad found the choice curious, for Grimani's 
most famous forebear, by hesitating before guiding a Venetian armada against 
a much weaker Ottoman fleet, had forfeited to the Ottoman sultan Mehmed II 
the Venetian colony on Negroponte. Following this disaster, he had been ban- 
ished from his city in disgrace, and then somehow had recovered decades later 
to become an octogenarian doge. 

Over a period of two weeks, Grimani, Saruq, and di Segura spent several in- 
tense sessions with Kubad at his lodgings hammering out a compromise between 

the sea voyage through the pirate-infested Aegean and Adriatic seas. A favug, perhaps 
even Kubad, did deliver such a firman to the commander of the castle on Chios (it is 
preserved as Basbakanlik Osmanli Arsivi, JVluhimme Defteri 7, p. 489). The Ottomans 
of course followed the lunar Islamic calendar, the dates from which I have chosen to 
convert for the sake of simplicity. 

* We know where and how long Kubad stayed in Venice, but not why he remained or what 
he did there other than negotiate. 

' On the Venetian state and its institutions, see Frederic C. Lane, Venice: a maritime republic 
(Baltimore, 1973), especially pp. 251-73. 

^ The Venetians expended great efforts and money in ascertaining Ottoman attitudes and 
policy. The bailo's later summary of Selim II's character, that he had "a very cruel face, 
and cruel he is indeed," while certainly unflattering may have been colored by the sultan's 
triumphant strike against Venetian Cyprus. The quotation is from Valensi, Birth of the 
despot, p. 39. 

^ Other than the existence of Grimani as his partner (see Arbel, Trading nations, pp. 134- 
36), the description of Kubad's negotiations with the Venetians and of his stay in Venice 
are all conjecture. 

Kubad in Venice 1 33 

the two Jewish merchants. The Signory, anxious to calm Ottoman outrage, 
finally agreed to give Kubad over 10,000 ducats to carry back to the sultan 
to cover di Segura's imperial debts. In addition, the Venetian state transferred 
into the envoy's possession various other goods, including a supply of alum. 
The Ottoman official brought these goods with him back to Istanbul, where he 
employed them to build his own lucrative business. 

Kubad still had in his possession a copy of the hiiccet that fastened the 
Venetian bailo and thus the Venetian state to Ottoman justice. He informed 
Grimani that he might be willing not only to destroy the document but also to 
arrange that it be expunged from the record at the kadi's court in Galata. After 
some deliberation the Venetian Council of Ten consented to pay the envoy 2,000 
ducats to do so: 1,000 for the certificate that he carried on his person and a 
second 1,000 upon fulfilling his task in Galata. 

By the end of November 1567 Kubad had sufficiently concluded his business 
in Venice. He decided not to set sail at once for home, however, for he was 
becoming intoxicated both with the authority he commanded in this foreign 
realm and with the delights of the place. In Istanbul, Galata had a reputation 
as an outpost for Christian European peoples and cultures. Venice, with its 
pageantry and riches, its markets and vendors, its inns, taverns, and brothels, 
made Galata seem pale and tawdry. 

The city's wines were a special treat. Kubad had often availed himself of 
Galata's offerings. Because of Islamic law, they were with few exceptions fer- 
mented in the cellars of diplomats only after a special dispensation (periodically 
withdrawn) from the imperial government. The envoy had not appreciated how 
foul these home-brews often were and he now understood how marvelous wine 
could be! The Venetians im,ported it from all over the Mediterranean world, 
and even though he quite enjoyed Majorcan vin blanc the envoy developed a 
particular fondness for, and more and more understood his padishah'^ mania 
for, the robust reds imported from Venetian Cyprus. 

In other ways though Kubad longed for the luxuries of his own city. The 
hard Venetian wooden chairs and tables were a poor substitute for the plush 
silk-upholstered divans to which he was accustomed. How could one enjoy one's 
leisure in a bolt-upright position? Congenial and languorous banter was nearly 
impossible! One might as well join the throngs wandering the canals or the 
nobs promenading along the Liste d'Oro. Even worse was the lack of coffee. 
Kubad had become a coffeehouse habitue soon after these marvelous haunts 
had appeared in Istanbul, where they were now a craze. The Venetians knew 

^ On this agreement and Kubad's expunging of the record of the bailo 's promise to abide 

by Ottoman justice, see Arbel, Trading nations, pp. 138-39. 
' OnGalata, see Eldem, "Istanbul." On Venice see Jan JVlorris, The world of Venice {OrXando, 

FLA, 1993). 
'" On which, see Hattox, Coffee and coffeehouses, pp. 46-60. 

1 34 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

nothing of such amusements, and how the envoy suffered without his relaxing 

For almost three months after his negotiations had ended, the f avu§ dallied. 
He maintained his residency on Giudecca even as he strolled through the squares 
and back alleys of the great city, explored its canals, scrutinized its Arsenals — 
both old and new —from afar, and as an esteemed guest attended meetings of 
its Senate. In the process, he learned much about the attitudes, procedures, and 
strengths and weaknesses of the Venetian polity as well as about the position of 
Ottoman merchants in the city's economy. 

He absorbed even more during the long hours he whiled away in the shops, 
inns, and taverns of the Rialto deep in conversation with his shrewd if unlet- 
tered fellow countrymen. Despite an intense rivalry between them, their shared 
existence as expatriates had drawn together these Ottoman subjects —Armenian 
Christian, Greek Orthodox Christian, Jewish, and Muslim. Kubad quickly 
realized that, despite their sense of camaraderie, the trade of Ottoman subjects 
was delineated along ethno-religious lines. Ottoman Armenians dominated the 
exchange of Persian silks, Greeks of goods indigenous to the Ottoman realm, 
and Jews of precious stones, spices, and wines. 

The Muslim merchants' range was less certain. They were trying to carve 
out a monopoly as dispensers of mohair textiles, but were having a hard time 
of it. In one memorable conversation with several Turko-Muslims from central 
Anatolia (one of whom, of Circassian descent, was Kubad's own distant rel- 
ative) they had complained bitterly about the difficulty of marketing Angora 
mohair in a Venice that could depend upon an inferior but serviceable enough 
mohair woven on Cyprus. The envoy conceded their contention that an Ottoman 
Cyprus would much enhance their business and intimated coyly that their am- 
bitions might soon be realized. 

Although impressed and much enamored with the Serenissima, a deep re- 
sentment grew within Kubad's breast. In his beloved city of Istanbul, the large 
and thriving communities of Christians and Jews fraternized with Muslims 

" According to the Ottoman chronicler Ibrahim Pecevi, two Syrian brothers brought 
the first coffee shops to the city in 1555 {Tarih'i Pefevi, 2 vols. [Istanbul, 1864—67], 
vol. I: 363). D'Ohsson reports, perhaps with some exaggeration, that twenty years later 
there were over 600 of them in the city (cited in Hattox, Coffee and coffeehouses, p. 81). 
The drink did not arrive in Venice until 1580 (Jan Morris, The Venetian Empire: a sea 
voyage [London, 1990], p. 184). 

'^ On Ottoman merchants in the international economy, see Halil Inalcik, "The Ottoman 
state: economy and society, 1300-1600," \n\na\c\k. Economic and social history, pp. 188- 
216. We have almost no information on relations between Ottoman merchants overseas. 
What follows is an informed guess. 

'^ What follows relies in part on Cemal Kafadar, "A death in Venice (1575): Anatolian Mus- 
lim merchants trading in the Serenissima," Journal of Turkish Studies 10(1986): 191—218. 
We know little about Muslim Ottomans in Christian Europe during the early modern 

Kubad in Venice 135 

on the streets and in the work places of the city. They worshiped openly in 
their churches and synagogues. One could even wander the quarter of Haskoy 
on a Saturday afternoon and watch believers pouring out of their synagogues, 
and the next morning observe the Christians attending church in Kumkapi. 
He himself had sat through both Christian and Jewish services, and welcomed 
misbelieving friends into his own house of God. 

What a contrast Venice was, and what a gaudy hubris the Venetians exhibited, 
with their mangy flying lions and piteous Stato da Mar in which even churches, 
if Greek Orthodox (a mosque was unthinkable!) , were often razed! The entire 
eastern-Mediterranean world loathed the officious Venetian colonizers. It is 
true that in Venice itself the state had permitted the Greeks, both exilic and 
Ottoman subjects, to establish their own community nearly 100 years before, 
and even to raise an almost-completed church, San Giorgio dei Greci, just next 
to the Arsenals. Nevertheless, the authorities had taken this measure reluctantly, 
and no Jews at all had been allowed to live in the city until some 50 years before. 
Now a small German Jewish community eked out a living as moneylenders, 
and survived in a cramped and overcrowded quarter, the Ghetto Novo. This 
community attended religious services not in temples built in honor of God, 
but in gloomy, moldering, and often-flooded private residences. It remained 
segregated in both its domestic and professional lives and existed under constant 
threat of expulsion. 

It had been a shock to learn that his Jewish associates, of Spanish rather 
than German origin and thus banned from residency in Venice, coveted similar 
refuge and considered such an abysmal shelter as Venice offered one of the choicest 
sites in Christendom! Such treatment was inconceivable in the Well-Protected 
Domains. After observing such squalor and impermanence how easy it was 
for Kubad to understand why Venice and other European cities served only 
as outposts in the Jewish commercial network, while Ottoman port cities had 
become its core. 

Even more disheartening was the Venetian attitude toward his own co- 
religionists. The sixty or so Muslim merchants (not all Ottoman) laboring in 
Venice boasted no ghetto. They did not even have their own fondaco in which to 
live, work, and worship. Instead they lived scattered among the many neigh- 
borhoods adjoining the Rialto, the city's central marketplace. Here they were 
easy prey to the explosions of anti-Ottoman sentiments that occasionally visited 
the Catholic city. Even more disturbing was the resultant lack of community. 
There was no prospect that a mosque could be raised in that most Catholic 
state. The authorities were not willing even to provide running water in order to 

'* Morris's Venetian Empire is a deliglitful and stylisii if baldly orientalist journey through 

the ever-changing Venetian domain. 
'' They would gain such a factory, Xhe fondaco dei turchi, sometime between 1592 (Inalcik, 

"Ottoman state," p. 189) and 1621 (Kafadar, "Death in Venice," p. 203). 

1 36 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

accommodate the ordained ablutions that preceded a Muslim's five-times-daily 
prayer. Without such concessions Kubad could not imagine the organization 
of a substantive Ottoman commercial presence in Venice, or anywhere else in 
Christian Europe. He found it appalling to think that western Europeans con- 
sidered this paranoid city-state a paragon of spiritual pluralism (or more usually 
censured its perceived permissiveness) . If this was the ideal, how fanatical and 
stifling must the rest of Catholic Europe be! 

'* The social formations of western and Ottoman Europe are contrasted in Goffman, 
Britons^ ch. 2. 

The Ottoman-Venetian association 

In an aesthetic sense at least, [Venice] still holds the east in fee, as the 
place where orient and Occident seem most naturally to meet: where 
the tower of Gothic meets the dome of Byzantine, the pointed arch 
confronts the rounded, where hints and traces of Islam ornament 
Christian structures, where basilisks and camels stalk the statuary, and 
all the scented suggestion of the east is mated with the colder diligence 
of the north. Augsburg met Alexandria in these streets long ago, and 
nobody fits the Venetian mis-en-scene better than the burnoused 
sheikhs so often to be seen these days feeding the pigeons in the 
Piazza, leading their veiled wives stately through the Merceria, or 
training their Japanese cameras upon St Theodore like that contorted 
sightseer in the old picture.' 

After the Ottomans conquered Constantinople in 1453 a few key cities 
more and more constituted that empire's nexus with the rest of Europe. 
Some, such as Venice or Vienna, existed outside of the empire; most, such 
as Istanbul, Izmir, and Aleppo, were Ottoman. The principal cause for 
this skewed situation can be found in the tenets of Christianity and Islam 
as displayed in the two halves of the early modern Mediterranean world. 
Whereas, in the Catholic northwest, Iberian and Italian states strictly 
restricted access to their cities, in the Muslim southeast the Ottoman 
state allowed diverse settlement. 

There were some partial exceptions to this rule. The most famous cer- 
tainly was Venice which as a port city drew its principal economic strength 
from seaborne commerce with the eastern-Mediterranean world. This 
contrast between the attitudes of the two civilizations produced a chronic 
and fascinating tension in Venice between a religious ideology that con- 
ceived a perpetual Crusade against the Islamic world and a situation that 
demanded bonds with Islamic states that controlled the international 
commercial routes to the east. From the point of view of the Catholic 
world, the Venetian reliance upon such trade led to a series of under- 
standings with its Muslim adversaries that were deemed shameful. 

' Morris, Venetian Empire, pp. 178-79. 


1 38 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

The most infamous such case occurred in 1204, when Venetian ships 
diverted a crusading army intent upon undertaking holy war against the 
Seljuk Turks in Anatolia. Instead the vessels carried the army to Con- 
stantinople, resulting in an almost sixty-year occupation of the capital city 
of the Christian Byzantine Empire. The quick accommodation between 
Venice and the Ottoman Empire after 1453 is another notorious example 
of Islamic— Venetian accommodation. As soon as it heard of the fall of 
the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, the Venetian Senate rushed an 
emissary with plenipotentiary authority to the new Ottoman capital to 
placate and negotiate terms with its conqueror. Sultan Mehmed II. Such 
accommodation, so often interpreted as sycophancy, not only produced 
Venetian commercial settlements in the principal cities of the expand- 
ing Ottoman realm but also engendered colonies of Ottoman subjects in 
Venice itself. 

Uneasy harmony 

Between the two most powerful states in the early modern eastern 
Mediterranean, the Ottoman and Venetian Empires, relations were al- 
ways tangled. In retrospect, the two states seem to have been forever 
either on the brink of war or actually fighting. The truth is more com- 
plicated and more engrossing; the long war (1463-79) that dominated 
the last years of Mehmed IPs reign was an anomaly. Between his death in 
1481 and 1645 the two states fought only three relatively brief times, each 
about three years in duration. At other times the two empires coexisted, 
sometimes uncommonly well. 

One can ascribe the relative calm to several factors. First of all, the 
fact that in the early sixteenth century each side had implacable ene- 
mies close to home complicated the Ottoman-Venetian relationship and 
tempted the two states to settle their quarrels amicably. For the Venetians, 
both mainland Italian rivals, spasmodically stirred up by the French and 
Spanish, and later the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V stretched the 
city-state's diplomatic skills, exhausted its treasury, and sapped its mili- 
tary strength.^ For the Ottomans, land-based enemies to the east, south, 
and north confounded a government determined to push westward across 
the Mediterranean. Such distractions would block any future Ottoman 
monarch from menacing Italy as directly as had Mehmed II in 1480 when 
his troops landed at Otranto in readiness for an advance upon Rome, from 
which the Pope prepared to flee. Only the sultan's death in the following 
year aborted this bold lunge for the "red apple" of the West. 

^ On which, see Garrett Mattingly, Renaissance diplomacy (Boston, 1955) pp. 72-86. 

The Ottoman- Venetian association 1 39 

Geographic considerations also loomed large in Ottoman-Venetian 
dealings. The Mediterranean Sea over which both states claimed pre- 
eminence bound its African, Asian, and European littorals not only cul- 
turally; it also politically divided its surrounding lands into eastern and 
western zones, the sea boundary being the slender passage between Sicily 
and Tunis. No state since the Roman one had constructed a system that 
unified the entire Mediterranean basin under a single sovereignty, and 
even Rome had been unable to hold both peripheries forever, but had in 
the fourth century broken apart into eastern and western realms. 

In the fifteenth century political fragmentation on both sides of that line 
had left a vacuum into which a single city-state - Venice - had been able 
to step. In the second decade of the sixteenth century, however, the sul- 
tan Selim I conquered Syria and Egypt (151 6-1 7) and brought the entire 
eastern Mediterranean under Ottoman control. At virtually the same mo- 
ment a series of fortuitous inheritances united the western Mediterranean 
under the Spanish king Charles I (who was coronated as Holy Roman 
Emperor Charles V in 1519). Thus was launched the Habsburg hege- 
mony over Catholic Europe. With the emergence of these two colossi, the 
Venetian Republic became transformed into a type of frontier principality. 
Just as an individual residing on a march or a borderland tends to adopt 
the attributes of its neighbors, indeed just as the Ottomans themselves in 
their formative years had mimicked many Persian and Byzantine forms, 
so more and more did Venice imitate its neighbors. The city-state simply 
could not compete with its two great rivals materially and militarily, and 
its survival depended increasingly upon diplomacy, accommodation, and 

The acculturations of individuals at times became remarkable, and bore 
a striking resemblance to the plasticity found a century earlier on the 
Byzantine-Ottoman frontier. Andrea Gritti, a Venetian nobleman long 
stationed in Istanbul, for example, had five sons: one by his Venetian wife 
and four by his Ottoman concubine, with whom he lived during his long 
residency in Istanbul. This sojourn in an enemy's capital proved no lia- 
bility for advancement: Gritti was elected doge in 1523 despite his love 
for Ottoman culture and the burden of his sons who were fully assimi- 
lated into the Ottoman world (and one of whom, Alvise, was the grand 
vizier's bosom friend and led an Ottoman army against the Hungarians 
at Buda).^ Gritti and his progeny were among the most distinguished 
of a flood of ambitious Venetians who, captivated by the opportunities, 
vigor, and refinement of the Ottoman polity, stepped across and blurred 

^ On Gritti and his sons see Valensi, Birth of the despot, pp. 17—19; on his son Alvise, 
and especially on the latter's role in the transmission of culture between Venice and the 
Ottoman court, see Necipoglu, "Siileyman the Magnificent," pp. 403-7. 

The Ottoman- Venetian association 141 

the boundaries between the Christian and Islamic civilizations and be- 
came cultural chameleons, or even, in the vernacular of that age, "turned 

Rounding out the western flank 

Venetians were not the only "renegadoes" from Christian Europe. Far 
better known and notorious were the thousands of Europeans who pro- 
vided expertise to Muslim pirates and swelled corsair ranks in the Barbary 
states. Nevertheless, because of the city-state's historical position as a 
conduit for the distribution throughout Europe of spices and other im- 
ports from the east and because of its many possessions in Greece and 
the Aegean Sea, Venice (and thus Venetians) felt particular pressure to 
indulge the Ottoman Empire. The results of the first of three Ottoman- 
Venetian wars in the sixteenth century manifested this need. The en- 
gagement began in 1499 with the appearance of an Ottoman fleet in the 
Ionian Sea. 

The Ottoman campaign at the turn of the century in many ways was 
unfinished business, a mopping-up operation from the long Ottoman- 
Venetian War (1463—79) that had seen the Ottoman acquisition of the 
Aegean islands of Negroponte and Lemnos and Venice's agreement to 
pay a tribute in return for the right to trade in the Black Sea (which 
the Ottomans, in possession of the Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits, 
now absolutely controlled). The Ottomans had in that war captured all 
of Greece except for the port towns of Lepanto, Modon, Coron, and 
Navarino and their immediate hinterlands - which Venice retained as 

One reason for the new operation was an Ottoman determination to 
seize control of these remaining Venetian strongholds. Equally critical 
was Ottoman anger that the Venetians had refused refuge in a Cypriot 
port to an Ottoman fleet, battered and made vulnerable by a tempest that 
had struck it while en route to Egypt to engage the Mamluks. Particularly 
maddening for Ottoman statesmen was that Venice had gained Cyprus - 
indirectly to be sure and at the expense of a French despot rather than 
the Ottomans - as an incidental result of the earlier contest between the 
Venetian and Ottoman empires. Finally, the sedentary Sultan Bayezid II, 
his younger brother Cem having finally passed away (however suspi- 
ciously) in Naples in 1495, may have felt suddenly free to go to war 
against those Christians who had held Cem hostage and thereby arrested 
Ottoman expansion westward. 

* To turn Turk had no national, ethnic, linguistic, or even cultural connotation. It simply 
signified conversion to Islam. 

142 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

This turn-of-the-century war also signified a further Ottoman incor- 
poration into the European political infrastructure. Several of the lesser 
Latin states - as well as France - had goaded the Ottomans to attack, 
presumably in order to distract the Venetians from the Italian mainland, 
which concurrently was tormented with chronic civil conflict and swarm- 
ing with French and Spanish armies.^ By accepting the Ottomans as a 
player in this complicated war these states helped marginalize ideology in 
the Mediterranean world. 

In June 1499, Ku^iik Davud Pasha lifted anchor at Gallipoli and ma- 
neuvered a fleet, the size of which startled and terrified Venetian ob- 
servers, out from the Dardanelles southwestward. At the same time the 
Sultan Bayezid II marched a large army overland from Istanbul to Edirne 
and down toward the Greek peninsula. The plan, not particularly inno- 
vative in itself (Xerxes had tried much the same thing some two millennia 
before), was to crush Lepanto between the Ottoman army and navy. More 
novel was the ability of the Ottoman state to float an armada large and 
competent enough to challenge the Venetians in open battle. Mehmed II 
had employed a fleet during the siege of Constantinople, but in an auxil- 
iary capacity. He also had used one during the conquest of Negroponte, 
but merely to assist the movement of troops from the mainland. Even 
with land troops to back him, in neither 1453 nor 1470 would he have 
dared risk conflict with a whole Venetian fleet. Thirty years later the great 
sultan's son was prepared to use his flotilla more aggressively. 

Even though the Ottomans did not take the Venetians unawares, their 
naval operation proved decisive in the conquest of Lepanto. Antonio 
Grimani, the Venetian commander, had his own fleet waiting at Modon, 
from which he advanced to guard the passageway into the Gulf of Corinth. 
Despite winds that favored the Venetian force, two Venetian and one 
Ottoman vessel went down in flames after a brief engagement and the 
outmanned Venetian commander panicked and withdrew to the island 
of Corfu where he awaited reinforcements. This retreat enabled Kiifiik 
Davud Pasha to rush up the straits into the Gulf of Corinth, where the 
combined might of the Ottoman army and navy forced Zoan Mori, the 
commander of the fortress, into a quick surrender. 

The loss of the town of Lepanto doomed the Venetian cause, for control 
of the entire Corinthian shoreline gave the Ottoman galleys, able both to 
re-provision easily and to use the shore to its advantage, an insurmount- 
able strategic edge in any coastal engagement. Even though Grimani 
later was stripped of his honors and exiled from Venice because of his 
ignoble retreat, neither he nor any other Venetian commander had ever 

^ On which see Francesco Guicciardini, The history of Florence, trans. Mario Domandi 
(New York, 1970), pp. 79-117. 

The Ottoman- Venetian association 143 

confronted such an armada, and it is doubtful that a more experienced 
commander would have been any less baffled. 

Venice had long since accepted the near invincibility of Ottoman 
ground troops. Nevertheless, the Republic's naval superiority through- 
out the fifteenth century had helped preserve its seaborne trade and pro- 
tect its islands and ports even in the littoral heartland of the Ottoman 
world. Despite the arrival of an Ottoman army before Lepanto's walls 
in 1499, the Venetian garrison at first gave little thought to submission. 
After all, the defenders must have reasoned, the sea-lanes remained open 
and their potent navy was cruising the Adriatic and could quickly reach 
Lepanto with provisions and reinforcements. When the fieet that arrived 
in early August fiew not Venice's lion of St. Mark but the Ottoman star 
and crescent, the startled defenders succumbed at once to what seemed 
the inevitable. 

The heat of the Greek summer already had driven Bayezid II from the 
lowlands surrounding Lepanto. So it was not he but Mustafa Pasha, 
the military commander (beylerbeyi) of Rumeli, who accepted the fig- 
urative key to the city. After this victory the Ottomans set out to secure 
the Gulf of Corinth from seaborne attack by raising fortresses at its en- 
trance, sent home the fleet (which had accomplished its amphibious oper- 
ation), and soon thereafter ended the campaigning season. Even though 
the Ottomans still may have deemed their navy ancillary, it had comported 
itself well, for the first time having challenged and repulsed a Venetian 

During the winter of 1499-1500 the Venetians sent an envoy to 
Istanbul, Lui Maventi, who in audience with Bayezid demanded free- 
dom for Venetian merchants and the restoration of Lepanto. The sultan 
allegedly replied: "If you want peace, you will surrender Modon, Coron, 
and Navarino and pay an annual tribute."^ This response displays an 
assurance that must have thoroughly unnerved the Venetian envoy and 
Senate. It also produced an impasse, and Maventi departed. 

The Ottoman campaign against Venice's Morean strongholds resumed 
the following summer. Bayezid again used his new-model navy at Modon, 
just as he had the year before, to fend off a Venetian relief fieet as his army 
enveloped and overwhelmed the city in mid-August 1500. The Ottomans 
next took Navarino and Coron without a fight and by 1 6 August the entire 
Peloponnesian Peninsula had yielded to Ottoman arms, an accomplish- 
ment that stripped the Venetians of their last mainland territories in the 
eastern Mediterranean and rounded out Ottoman dominion along its 
western frontier. 

Ismail Hakki Uzuncarsili, Osmanh Tariki, Vol. II: IstanhuVun fethininden kanuni Sultan 
Siileymanhn Oliimune kadar (Ankara, 1943), p. 218. 

144 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

Not that the Venetian campaign was a complete disaster. In the follow- 
ing year the Republic's navy again commanded the seas because of that 
state's success finally in convincing the Pope, the Knights of St. John, 
and the Hungarians to ally with it (although Venice never again would 
"do it alone" against its Muslim rival). This "holy alliance" first attacked 
the island of Mytilene, just off the coast of Ottoman Anatolia. When this 
campaign failed Benedetto Pesaro, Grimani's successor as Venetian ad- 
miral, convinced his allies to backtrack into the Ionian Sea and strike 
against the island of Levkas, which they captured. Pesaro was able to se- 
cure also for Venice the important Ionian islands of Corfu, Cephalonia, 
and Zante. This cluster of Ionian islands was strategically crucial for they 
(and especially Corfu) guarded access to the Adriatic Sea, which Venice 
chose to regard as its own. 

The war ended with this reassertion of Venetian sea power, for by 
the end of 1502 both sides had had enough. Bayezid might have been 
tempted to push his advantage, particularly since the Ottomans must 
have been feeling vengeful against Venice's Hungarian ally who had that 
summer pillaged villages along the frontier - particularly in the Danu- 
bian valley near Vidin - and brazenly brandished spiked rows of severed 
Ottoman heads before the palace of Ladislas II in Budin. Nevertheless, 
rumors from the east that the Safavid Shah Ismael of Persia might soon 
strike against Ottoman territory made it seem urgent to calm the empire's 
western frontier. Consequently, on 14 December 1502 the Ottomans and 
Venetians agreed to a treaty that not only conceded to the Ottomans their 
Greek gains and to the Venetians their Ionian ones but also committed 
the Venetians to an annual tribute of 10,000 ducats. In short, this treaty 
granted just what Bayezid II had demanded two years earlier. 

From the military standpoint, the 1499-1502 war seems a decisive 
moment in the construction of a hardening line between the Christian 
and Islamic Mediterranean worlds. As a result of this conflict the frontier 
between the Ottomans and the Venetians became almost entirely coastal, 
and thus clearly delineated. This hard geographic and ideological division 
is illusive, however, for in the military sphere a shift in power continued 
through the century, and in other spheres borders between the empires in 
fact were becoming more permeable and in some instances fading away 

The dissolving of barriers was particularly pronounced in economic 
and diplomatic arenas. In the former case the Venetians concentrated 
with renewed vigor upon preserving and expanding commercial corri- 
dors into the Ottoman Balkans, Black Sea, Anatolia, and (after 1516- 
17) Syria and Egypt. This strategy secured commercial agreements with 
the Ottoman government, settled large trading communities in Istanbul 

The Ottoman- Venetian association 145 

and other Ottoman cities, and taught the Republic much about the per- 
plexing world of Ottoman politics and society. The foundation of this 
emerging bond was a flood of expatriate businessmen and a skilled corps 
of consuls, bailos, and envoys - in other words a sophisticated diplo- 
matic service - who could serve as the interface between the Ottoman 
and Venetian states. The resulting societal overlap inescapably produced 
myriad Venetian cultural chameleons. 

A seaborne ascendancy 

The war of 1499-1502 demonstrated a novel Ottoman competence at sea. 
This new ability matured as the century progressed, due as much to native 
know-how as, in the more accepted explanations, to the service in the Ot- 
toman fleets of skilled Greek mariners or the celebrated coalition with the 
deys of the Barbary Coast, the most celebrated of whom was Hayreddin 
Barbarossa Pasha. By 1537-39 when the second Ottoman-Venetian War 
of the century occurred, a fully developed Ottoman navy with Barbarossa 
at its helm was able not only to confound and vanquish the combined 
forces of the entire Catholic Mediterranean world, but also to take the 
war to Venetian citadels in the Aegean Sea and even into the Adriatic. 

The immediate cause of this war was the Habsburg Charles V's ongoing 
tussle with the Ottoman Siileyman for supremacy over the Mediterranean 
seas. Charles two years earlier had enjoyed a victory (which would prove 
ephemeral) with his conquest of Tunis. ^ The Pope's ability to pull to- 
gether an alliance between the papacy, Venice, and the Habsburg Empire 
established favorable conditions for a direct strike against the Ottomans. 
Venice proved the Pope's most reluctant ally in this strong coalition. The 
city-state had spent the previous thirty-five years cultivating Ottoman 
friendship. In the process many of its most influential notables had spent 
time in Istanbul. Some, such as Andrea Gritti through his long residency 
in that great city, his founding of a household there, and the presence of 
several of his sons in the Ottoman administration, had put down deep 
roots in Ottoman society. In 1537 the Venetian Senate declared war only 
after long debate and despite the impassioned opposition of Gritti and 
others of like mind. Almost as if it were a civil war rather than one between 
states, the intersection between the two societies was such that many a 
Venetian father found himself flghting his son and a Venetian brother 
killing his brother. 

In this war, the Ottomans repeated their earlier strategy, so success- 
ful in the Morea, of blending their army and navy into an amphibious 

^ See especially Hess, Forgotten frontier, pp. 71—99. 

146 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 


Map 7 

machine that conducted pincer movements against Venetian and other 
strongholds as the navy used the cover of castles, armies, even beaches 
to repulse relief fleets. A vital novelty was that the navy no longer was 
auxiliary to the army; now it was ground troops that attended mariners. 

The Ottoman- Venetian association 


In short, Ottoman command of the entire eastern-Mediterranean littoral 
now allayed its fleet's logistical obstacles. Whereas the huge crews of the 
galleys of Catholic states risked fatigue whenever they pushed into east- 
ern seas, Ottoman vessels had to pass all the way into the Tyrrhenian 

148 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

Sea before they were further than a day or two from fresh water, victuals, 
munitions, and manpower.^ This strategic gain is evident in the very 
first engagements of the war, when Barbarossa aggressively sailed up the 
Adriatic into the heart of the so-called "Venetian sea" even as two of the 
sultan's sons, Mehmed and Selim, led an army to Avlonya on the coast of 
Ottoman Albania. The army's mission was not only to put down a local 
revolt that Venetian agents had helped inspire, but more importantly to 
furnish the fleet, so far from its home base, with men, provisions, and 

When Andrea Doria, the Genoese commander of the combined 
Catholic fleet, retreated to the Sicilian port of Messina after a brief 
skirmish. Sultan Siileyman ordered an attack on the Venetian island of 
Corfu, which lies opposite Otranto at the mouth of the Adriatic Sea. 
This operation was completely seaborne and thus exposed Barbarossa's 
flank; he could not depend upon direct strategic support from Ottoman 
Albania. In addition, he encountered an innovative defense - squat and 
broad walls engineered expressly to absorb the force of Ottoman artillery. 
The invasion failed. Then in the following summer Barbarossa turned to 
the Aegean archipelago with much better results. Here he took the island 
cluster of Naxos and several other Venetian isles and pillaged towns along 
the coastlines of Venetian Crete. 

The major battle of this war was fought at sea in 1538, off the coast of 
Preveza. Andrea Doria's fleet perhaps was larger than the Muslim one, 
but was disadvantaged because it had to perform in Ottoman coastal 
waters. With his galleys' backs defended and his crews replenished and 
kept fresh by the Ottoman units along the Albanian shores, Barbarossa 
could play a waiting game. The personnel of the enemy fleet, exposed 
on the open seas, gradually weakened. Reluctantly, Doria had to order a 
retreat, at which point the numerically inferior Ottoman fleet, with fresh 
oarsmen driven steadily forward by its pugnacious admiral, darted out 
and overtook the now bedraggled allied flotilla between Preveza and the 
island of Levkas on 28 September 1539. 

In the ensuing engagement Doria found himself with neither the space 
to prevent the Ottomans from ramming his ships nor the winds to ma- 
neuver behind them. The consequence was a rout of the Catholic forces. 
Whereas thirty-six Alliance ships were captured, about 3,000 mariners 
enslaved, and Doria forced to flee ignobly to the haven of Corfu Town, 
Barbarossa lost not a single ship (ironically a storm two days later threw 
his fleet against the Dalmatian coast and wrecked sixty or seventy galleys). 

^ On this war and the ones of 1565 and 1570-73, see John Guilmartin, Gunpowder and 
galleys: changing technology and Mediterranean warfare at sea in the sixteenth century 
(London, 1974). 

The Ottoman- Venetian association 149 

In the treaty that followed, Venice, the most reluctant ally, was the big 
loser. The Sultan Siileyman compelled the Serenissima not only to sign 
over to the Ottomans its fortresses along the Dalmatian coast but also to 
relinquish formally the Aegean islands that the Ottoman fleet had taken 
the previous summer. 

The Pope and his allies had coerced an unwilling Venetian Senate 
into the war of 1537—39, from which Venice lost more than any other 
state. The ability of the Ottoman navy simultaneously to restrain a com- 
bined Catholic array and to overpower several Venetian fortresses and 
islands proved that the city-state no longer could mobilize a convincing 
military presence in the eastern Mediterranean. Its appearance in those 
seas would thereafter hinge upon the indulgence of the rival Ottoman 
state. In these circumstances, Venice was likely to drift into an accom- 
modation with Ottoman ambitions and even to launch a metamorphosis 
toward the Ottoman "way." The only alternative would have been for the 
"mistress of the seas" to forsake its maritime empire. Venetian awareness 
of its martial frailty probably was the principal impetus for the city-state's 
construction of a sophisticated diplomatic grid, in which Istanbul was to 
become the most vital posting in the late sixteenth century. 

Even more devastating than the loss of a scattering of Aegean islands 
was that the Ottomans now were able to incorporate into their empire 
much of the southeastern Adriatic coast. The Venetians long had consid- 
ered the coastlines of this sea as their own and had succeeded in staking 
their claim against the city-state of Dubrovnik (Ragusa), the papal port 
of Ancona, and other regional pretenders. To do so against the behe- 
moth that now governed much of Dalmatia (from where Venice long had 
drawn most of its precious mariners and oarsmen) and that possessed 
almost invincible armies and navies lay far beyond the Republic's means. 
The loss of the Dalmatian coast and the potential dismantling of the vital 
commercial termini that bound the Balkans to the rest of Europe warned 
against confrontation and more than ever counseled accommodation and 

Setback in the west 

It probably was for these reasons that the Venetians missed the siege of 
Malta in 1565, the first major Ottoman naval reverse of the sixteenth 
century. The Islamic state sought the island of Malta in part because it 
had become the sanctuary of the crusading Knights of St. John after the 
Sultan Siileyman threw them out of Rho des in 1 5 2 2 . More vital, however, 
was the island's location at the juncture between the eastern and western 
Mediterranean seas. The reach of galleys, the principal weapon of early 

150 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

modern Mediterranean naval warfare, was limited. Not only did they 
have to touch friendly shores every two weeks or so because of their large 
crews of oarsmen and soldiers who consumed vast quantities of food and 
water, but also they could not safely sail winter seas. Consequently, for 
fleets as for armies, provisioning demands and campaign seasons severely 
limited ranges of operations. 

Just as Vienna may have represented a logistical limit for an Ottoman 
army whose commander and many of whose troops set out from Edirne 
or even Istanbul each year, so might Malta have signified a boundary for a 
fleet that had to embark at the Dardanelles and could move only as quickly 
as its slowest vessels (perhaps two nautical miles per hour). Furthermore, 
since neither any Balkan nor Barbary city had the resources to support 
the vast numbers involved in an Ottoman mobilization (although the state 
exploited each region as far as it could), all major campaigns had to draw 
upon Istanbul's vast resources.^ Similarly, just as the conquest of Vienna, 
which did have the means to become a new logistical center, might have 
opened central Europe to the Ottomans, so the conquest of Malta, where 
a substantial host could have wintered, might have exposed Italy and even 
Iberia to their armies. 

The siege of Malta miscarried, if only just, for the same reasons that 
each siege of Vienna faltered. It was certainly not because of incompe- 
tence; Guilmartin has proved the great skill with which both the Ottomans 
under Piyale Pasha and the Spaniards under Don Garcia de Toledo ma- 
neuvered, even calling this engagement "the apex of sixteenth-century 
amphibious warfare."'" Nevertheless the commander of Ottoman forces 
had much longer and more brittle lines of communication than did his 
Spanish foe, and he failed to take the fort of St. Elmo, which protected 
the entrance into the Grand Harbor at Malta, quickly enough to seize 
the stronghold at Malta Town before his men and the weather collapsed. 
Because he was so far from home Piyale Pasha could afford to make no 
errors at all; the few he did make were enough to deprive him of essential 
time and resources. 

Another critical factor in this Islamic state's setbacks at Malta as well 
as Vienna involved methods that had yielded earlier conquests. In their 
thrusts into the Christian Balkans and Muslim Arab lands the Ottomans 
had relied upon the abuses of alien administrations to gain support from 
indigenous subjects. Just as in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the 
Ottomans became adept at stirring up Greek Orthodox passions against 

' The "natural limits of expansion" thesis has been challenged though. See, for example, 
Caroline Finkel, The administratioti of warfare: the Ottoman military campaigns in Hungary, 
1593-1606 (Vienna, 1987). 
Gunpowder and galleys, p. 178. 

The Ottoman- Venetian association 151 

Catholic lords in the Balkans, so in the early sixteenth century did they 
exploit an inept Mamluk administration, taking advantage of its structural 
inability to blend indigenes into political and administrative life, and its 
impotence against Portuguese incursions into the Indian Ocean to garner 
the assistance of Syrian and Egyptian Arabs against alien rulers. 

Unlike these earlier situations the religions, languages, and even eth- 
nicities of the Austrian and Maltese inhabitants matched those of their 
rulers. Furthermore, centuries of conflict and indoctrination had thor- 
oughly institutionalized in these societies a demonization of the "Turk," 
whom the inhabitants had never resided with and therefore could not 
imagine as human beings. Consequently, not only could the invaders 
not implement the effective dividing-and-conquering feature of the 
Ottoman method of conquest, ^^ but they confronted natives who car- 
ried a communal horror of Islam and the Ottoman state and zealously 
resisted the invaders. Siileyman's army in 1529 and Piyale Pasha's navy 
in 1565 were not only the victims of insurmountable logistics; each was 
left isolated in a remote territory populated by a malevolent people. The 
odds simply proved too long and the Ottoman state never figured out 
how to shorten them. 

Occupying an Aegean island 

Such was not the case in the eastern Mediterranean, where on several 
islands a Catholic nobility still ruled over Greek Orthodox commoners. 
Even though the Ottomans seemed invincible in this region, in the 1 560s 
even the Aegean itself was not yet entirely theirs. Chios, a strategically 
and economically vital island nestled against the central Anatolian coast, 
lingered through Siileyman's entire reign in the hands of the Giustiniani, 
a prominent Genoese family. A scattering of small islands, along with 
Crete, which stretches across the southern approach to the Aegean Sea, 
remained Venetian. 

The long-lived character of these Latin satellite communities reflects 
more a lack of Ottoman concern about them than effective resistance. 
Certainly after the battle of Preveza Venetian and Genoese colonials ac- 
cepted, with however much loathing, Ottoman dominion over the Aegean 
basin. Most of them relinquished genuine liberty — usually yielding a trib- 
ute, guaranteeing Ottoman commercial access, and tolerating intermit- 
tent pillaging by Muslim corsairs - in return for nominal authority. The 
Sublime Porte in return invested these petty potentates with the illusion 
of sovereignty. 

" On which see Inalcik, "Ottoman methods of conquest," pp. 104-29. 

152 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

Chios, ruled since the fifteenth century by a Council of Twelve over 
which the Giustiniani family presided, is a case in point. '^ In return for 
continuing autonomy after Mehmed IPs conquest of Negroponte in 1 470, 
the island's elders agreed to pay an annual tribute which Selim I in 1512 
had raised to 10,000 ducats as part of a renewed treaty (really an ahdname 
or imperial decree declaring specific privileges and responsibilities) that 
granted the Chians notable commercial rights. 

Probably more important than this tribute, produced through customs 
revenue and the export of silks and resin from the rare mastic tree, was the 
island's situation as a "middle port" between the Ottoman Empire and 
the western Mediterranean Sea and Europe. Throughout the early six- 
teenth century, bullion and textiles from western Europe and cottons and 
dried fruits from western Anatolia were funneled through Chios Town 
via its sister mainland port of (^e§me. In this regard its situation dif- 
fered little from Dubrovnik's, which concurrently served as an Adriatic 
entrepot for the Ottoman Balkans in return for some autonomy. ^^ Both 
also manifested that fecund pluralism associated with crossroads between 

An economic recession in the 1560s put the Chian tribute seriously 
into arrears. This monetary crisis, combined with Ottoman frustration at 
the botched invasion of Malta in 1565 and suspicions that the Genoese 
of Chios had given intelligence to the Knights of St. John that had helped 
frustrate that assault, sufficed to alter Chios's fortunes. One of Sultan 
Siileyman's last angry acts in the spring of 1566 as he prepared for his 
"death march" into Hungary against the Habsburgs was to order his 
grand admiral (kapudanpa§a), Piyale Pasha, to confiscate the island. 

The ease with which the naval commander implemented this command 
confirms that the island's long semi-independence had been an Ottoman 
artifice. Rather than moving directly against it, Piyale Pasha anchored 
his seventy or so vessels at (^e§me. To this mainland port, only hours 
away from Chios, he summoned many of the island's aristocracy, and 
then detained them. Only then did he ferry his troops across the thin 
channel, occupy the Genoese fortress in Chios Town, and appoint as its 
commander Muzaffer bey, the sancakbeyi of Kir§ehir, who at once began 
restocking its munitions and repairing its fortifications. 

Having accomplished his task virtually without bloodshed, Piyale Pasha 
loaded Chios's principal Genoese families aboard his galleys and sailed 
off for the Black Sea port of Kefe. The admiral probably had meant to 
sell these former overlords in the slave markets that marked the northern 

Philip P. Argenti, Chius Vincta or the occupation of Chios by the Turks (1566) and their 
administration of the island (1566-1912) (Cambridge, 1941). 
'^ On which see chapter 6 below. 

The Ottoman- Venetian association 153 

fringe of the Empire. The Genoese somehow avoided this fate, however. 
The Ottoman government later resettled most of them in the old Genoese 
colony of Galata, just across the Golden Horn from Istanbul. A few of 
the boys were taken to the palace of Ibrahim Pasha in Istanbul itself, 
where they were converted to Islam and became servants of the sultan. 

Ottoman handling of the Greek majority on Chios was even milder. 
In fact, the populace probably knew that its island's incorporation into 
the Ottoman polity would be virtually painless, perhaps even an improve- 
ment over the notoriously brutal Latin dominion. Recognizing the Greek 
loathing of the Latin goes far toward explaining the ease not only of 
this occupation but also of other Ottoman progressions into the Aegean 
and Balkan worlds. The foundation of Ottoman successes was moral 
rather than military; former regimes had been simply loathsome. Even 
though Ottoman conquests liberated no one (if liberation was even con- 
ceivable in an early modern context), they did produce both the cessation 
of Catholic contempt for the heresy of Greek Orthodoxy (often mani- 
fested in a fiercely proselytizing clergy and the razing of churches) and 
some relief from the onerous taxes and levies that Latin imperialists so 
infamously exacted from their Greek vassals. 

Such amelioration certainly was the immediate result of the Ottoman 
occupation of Chios in 1566. Without delay the government undertook 
to survey the peoples and products of the island, in part to determine 
Chios's assets and exploit them fully and consistently and in part - since 
most inhabitants had joined the Abode of Islam (dar al-islam) without 
resistance — to establish the inhabitants' customary laws and minimize 
any spiritual or legal disruptions that inescapably would accompany the 
island's integration into the Ottoman world. 

The outcome was an extraordinary tax break for the island's Greek 
Orthodox, Armenian, and Jewish inhabitants, an increase in immigra- 
tion from other parts of the empire, and an immediate upswing in Chian 
commerce. The new regime reduced to perhaps 8 percent the tithe 
upon the Greek peasantry, which under the Genoese may have reached 
50 percent of agricultural production. At the same time it scrupulously 
regulated the island's thriving silk industry, monopolized its lucrative 
trade in mastic, and strove to sustain its position as a middle port between 
civilizations. Ultimately of course the Ottomans expected the resources 
and peoples of Chios (as with any occupied territory) not only to sus- 
tain its own garrison, but also to contribute troops to the government's 
military and treasure to its coffers. 

The palace and populace in Istanbul long had benefited just as much 
as did the Genoese from the proximity of this entrepot to the fertile 
Anatolian seaboard. The Sublime Porte considered that territory, so rich 

1 54 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

in cottons and grapes, olives, figs, and other fruits, a chief provisioning 
zone for the capital city. As such, the government discouraged any di- 
versions from this fundamental purpose. Consequently, it energetically 
stified the development of mainland towns that might have evolved into 
commercial or demographic competitors with Istanbul, and in 1566 Fo^a, 
(^e§me, Izmir, and other western Anatolian port towns remained little 
more than transit stations for products en route to Istanbul and western 
Europe via Chios. 

The legal code (kanunname) that prefaces the Chian cadastral survey 
(tapu-tahrir) of 1567 reflects the Ottoman intent to sustain the island 
as the region's paramount commercial interchange. In it, Selim II shel- 
tered the island's Greek Orthodox, Jewish, and even Latin communities 
from potential exploitation by Muslims and by each other. He also agreed 
to exempt Chian children from the dev^irme, to confirm all prior legal de- 
cisions, and to permit (with the kadi's consent) the repair of demolished, 
damaged, and abandoned Greek Orthodox churches, and also retained 
and strove to broaden the established Genoese commercial system. 
Istanbul allowed Chians to transfer luxury and other goods, especially 
silks, wheat, and barley, duty-free, imposed no new charges upon other 
goods imported from the mainland, exempted from duty vessels in transit 
from the Black Sea unless their merchandise was marketed on the island 
itself, and endorsed ^e§me's special commercial relationship with the 

Venetian Cyprus subdued 

The ease with which the Ottomans had occupied Genoese Chios probably 
encouraged the government's militancy. Indeed, it may be said to have 
constituted the opening act in the War over Cyprus, the most celebrated 
Ottoman-Venetian drama of the sixteenth century.'* Cyprus's location 
within sight of the southern Anatolian coastline and close to the caravan 
terminals of Syria made it strategically and economically vital. Under the 
French Lusignans it had constituted the last of those peculiar Catholic 
feudalities that had sprouted up along the Syrian coast after the first 
Crusades. Also as a result of its location it has always been subject to 
invasion and consequently has long boasted a melange of peoples; until 
divided into "Greek" and "Turkish" zones in the twentieth century the 
island had been wildly multi-religious, ethnically diverse, and polyglot. 

The Signory, desperate for an eastern Mediterranean island to replace 
Negroponte, lost to the Ottomans in 1470, spent the next two decades 

'* On Cyprus, see Sir George Hill, A history of Cyprus, Vol. Ill: The Prankish Period, 
1432-1571 (Cambridge, IS 

The Ottoman- Venetian association 155 

maneuvering for Cyprus (even becoming its figurative paterfamilias in 
order to gain it). In 1489 the Republic finally attained control of it as the 
result of a clever dynastic marriage and naked force. 

Over the next eighty years the Venetians bent the island's people and 
topography to their particular requirements. In its most grim hour of 
imperiousness, the Republic demolished ancient and often exquisite ed- 
ifices, constructed in their places ugly barricades and fortresses specifi- 
cally designed to frustrate the huge artillery pieces that the Ottomans had 
employed so effectively against Constantinople, and fashioned a cruel 
colonial administration that pitilessly taxed (at least one-third of produc- 
tion) and corveed (for as many as three days each week) Cyprus's Greek 
Orthodox serfs. The catalysts for this brutality were not only an impe- 
rious psychology but also contempt for the religion of the Greeks and 
terror of the Ottomans, whose territories after 1516 were within 35 miles 
to the north and 60 to the east of the island and whose galleys inces- 
santly prowled the Cypriot coasts. In the name of security and for the 
sake of empire, then, the city-state fashioned a frenzied bitterness. When 
the Ottomans did finally land in 1570, most Cypriots exulted in each 
Venetian reverse. 

Cyprus remained Venetian until 1571 for the same reason Chios had 
remained Genoese until 1566. Between 1489 and 1570 the Venetians 
labored hard to placate and accommodate first the Mamluks in Cairo 
and, after 1517, the Ottomans in Istanbul. The Serenissima even honored 
the substantial tribute that the Mamluks had earlier obliged the Lusignan 
despots to pay. The Ottomans could have snatched theisland — at abloody 
price to be sure - at almost any time after their absorption of Mamluk 
territories. Principally because of economic and political expediencies, 
however, the Sublime Porte for decades was willing to accept Venetian 

Unfortunately for this Ottoman-Venetian rapport, Cyprus lies astride 
the sea roads that join the Syrian coasts, Egypt, and southern Anatolia to 
Istanbul. After the Ottoman conquests of Syria and Egypt, that empire 
encompassed all of these territories, and pirates soon took to haunting the 
seas near the island, and pouncing upon and plundering Istanbul-bound 
Ottoman vessels heavily laden with rice and grain from Egypt and lux- 
ury items from Syria, before sprinting back into Cyprus's many protective 
harbors, coves, and inlets. Venetian garrisons in the myriad fortresses scat- 
tered along the island's coasts found themselves in an awkward dilemma. 
They believed it honorable to shield these semi-sanctioned vessels whose 
crews insisted that the holy war excused such raids, a stance that of course 
provoked Ottoman reprisals against Cypriot coastal towns. Such retalia- 
tory forays became frequent, even chronic. Although the bailo over and 

155 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

over again attended the Imperial Divan to disavow Venetian responsibility 
for compatriot marauders, Christian privateering and Ottoman retalia- 
tion produced a festering sore in relations between the two empires. 

Siileyman's death in 1566 probably sealed Cyprus's fate. The legacy 
of expansion almost required that each Ottoman succession begin with a 
legitimizing conquest. Mehmed II had subdued Constantinople, Selim I 
Syria and Egypt, and Siileyman Belgrade and Rhodes. The only excep- 
tion during the previous century had been Mehmed II's son Bayezid II, 
whose father's draining militancy and whose own prolonged struggle for 
the succession with his younger brother Cem had curbed his pugnac- 
ity until late in his reign. This one deviation ended badly: displeasure 
with Bayezid's passivity had convinced discouraged counselors to help 
his son Selim I depose him in 1512 and (so hearsay had it) have him 
poisoned soon thereafter. In 1566 several of his key advisors (although 
not his grand vizier) maintained that Selim II also required such a ma- 
neuver, and that Cyprus could provide it. A dispatch from Dubrovnik in 
early 1570 notifying the Imperial Divan that Venice had just joined an 
anti-Ottoman alliance with Spain and the papacy merely designated the 
moment for an enterprise that already had been conceived, debated, and 
probably decided upon. 

The Ottoman attack proceeded swiftly. In late June 1570 a large armada 
of some 300 vessels passed down the Dardanelles and into Aegean wa- 
ters. Soon thereafter lala Mustafa Pasha, Selim's childhood mentor, fiery 
leader of the "war party" in the Imperial Divan, and Sokollu Mehmed 
Pasha's implacable opponent, landed an army - composed mostly of 
sipahi troops mobilized in southern Anatolia — on the southern coast 
of Cyprus. Just as had happened on Chios four years before, an elated 
Greek Cypriot people greeted Mustafa Pasha as a liberator from its Latin 
oppressors. This local ardor helped the Pasha realize a quick march to the 
interior Venetian capital city of Nicosia, which succumbed after a short 
if brutal siege. 

With most of the indigenous inhabitants backing the invaders, the war 
soon became a rout and by the end of July lala Mustafa Pasha held the 
entire island except for the stoutly fortified port town of Famagusta. 
Under the inspired if reckless command of the Venetian Captain of 
Cyprus, Marco Antonio Bragadino (who was for his labors in the end 
flayed alive, stuffed, and publicly displayed in Istanbul), and thanks to 
the bold dash of a small fleet of Venetian galleys through the Ottoman 
sea blockade, the town held out for a full ten months. Nevertheless, with- 
out sustained seaborne assistance, which a desperately preoccupied allied 
fleet could not provide, the defense proved useless and the town finally 
was taken on 1 August 1571. 

The Ottoman- Venetian association 157 

Even though Cyprus was "conquered," and thus passed as property 
to the sultan, Selim II's administration chose to regard the seizure of 
the island also as a deliverance. This attitude was not entirely fantasy, 
for the essentially Greek Orthodox island had been under first Lusignan 
and then Venetian rule since Richard I of England had seized it during 
the Third Crusade, and most of its inhabitants had learned to hate and 
fear their Catholic overlords. The fiction also was convenient, for it per- 
mitted the state to deny its gazi warriors their rights of plunder and to 
organize a smooth transition to Ottoman rule.'^ 

Just as Venetians and other Fourth Crusaders in 1204 had disfigured 
and plundered Constantinople more thoroughly than did the Ottomans 
in 1453, so was it Venetians rather than Ottomans who pilfered most 
of Cyprus's treasures (some of which are proudly exhibited in Venetian 
museums to this day) and demolished most of its monuments. This is not 
to declare a particular Ottoman compassion in either case (the janissaries 
and other Ottoman troops plundered what they could); but neither were 
they more vicious, more savage, or more avaricious than their Christian 

Immediately after Famagusta fell, the Ottoman state undertook a cen- 
sus to assess the wealth, population, and laws of the island. The Sublime 
Porte considered Latins, many of whom fied to Venice and elsewhere, 
as vanquished enemies; it treated Greeks as a subject people. A close 
reading of the census of 1572, for example, divulges not only a dramatic 
drop in direct taxes from the Venetian to the Ottoman era but also the 
termination of the reviled corvee and the excise on salt. 

On Cyprus the Ottomans departed in one noteworthy way from the 
procedures they had executed on Chios. This deviation concerned the 
coerced migration of peoples (surgiin), one of the Ottomans' most de- 
bated and condemned policies in modern Cyprus, Greece, Serbia, and 
other Balkan states (and probably the empire's most visible legacy in 
these territories). Since the late fourteenth century the government had 
used surgun for two often complementary purposes: the removal of recal- 
citrant communities from their sustaining habitats and the replenishing 
of under-populated regions and cities. One example was the successful 
(and notorious) forced migration of nomadic Turkomans from eastern 
Anatolia into the Balkans, where they served effectively on the Hungarian 
and Habsburg marches as latter-day ^aar; warriors (akmcis); a second was 
Mehmed II's resettlement of Armenian Christians, Orthodox Greeks, 

'^ Inalcik, "Ottoman policy," is the classic discussion of this transition to Ottoman rule. 
See also, though, Ronald Jennings, "The population, taxation, and wealth in the cities 
and villages of Cyprus, according to the detailed population survey (Defter-i Mufassal ) 
of 1572," Journal of Turkish Studies 10(1986): 175-89. 

158 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

and Jews in Istanbul (soon after 1453 Anatolia and the Ottoman Balkans 
were essentially divested of their Jewish communities), where they helped 
energize an almost abandoned city. At first many resented this uprooting 
by which 

the padishah having conquered the city sent troops to all the provinces, proclaim- 
ing "those who desire should come to Istanbul. We shall give you houses, fields 
and gardens, and properties." Whoever came was given these things. They settled 
in this city and made it flourish. The padishah also decreed that both rich and 
poor be driven from their homes. He sent men to the pohce and magistrates in 
every province and ordered them to do everything they could to drive inhabitants 
out, promising houses for a fixed period also to people who came in this manner. '^ 

Many eventually learned to relish the fantastic possibilities of the booming 
metropolis, and Istanbul soon came to act as its own magnet. 

The surgun to Cyprus was a different matter, for it was Muslim no- 
mads and agriculturalists from Anatolia whom the Ottomans transported 
to this island in the years after 1571. From the perspective of the early 
twenty-first century, this resettlement seems a bid to inundate a Greek 
island with Turks. Such was not the intent, however. As far as we can tell, 
the Ottomans never implemented surgun against particular ethnicities or 
religions, the usual motive for similar tactics on the part of nation states 
today. Nor is there much evidence that the Greek Orthodox inhabitants 
of Cyprus were particularly rebellious, even potentially so. The state's in- 
tent rather was to reinvigorate an economy that centuries of abuse and ne- 
glect had crippled. Indeed, the government did not bring only Anatolian 
Muslims to Cyprus. In the 1570s Istanbul also sent orders (some of which 
Joseph Nassi and other infiuential Ottoman Jews succeeded in having re- 
scinded) that Jews from Safed, Jerusalem, and elsewhere in Syria should 
resettle and reinvigorate the wreckages of Famagusta and Nicosia. ^^ 

A grand reversal 

The Ottoman-Venetian confiict that had begun with the Ottoman inva- 
sion of Cyprus in the summer of 1570 climaxed a year later in two almost 
simultaneous events: the Ottoman conquest of Famagusta and a sea bat- 
tle off the coast of Lepanto. The capture of Famagusta happened first, 
after an investment that lasted almost a year and is said to have cost the 
lives of the entire Venetian garrison and over 50,000 Ottoman troops. 

"■ A§ikpa§azade Tari/f! (Istanbul, 1333/1914-15), p. 142. 

'^ Uriel Heyd, "Turkish documents concerning the Jews of Safed in the sixteenth century," 
in Studies on Palestine during the Ottoman period, ed. Moshe iVIo'az (Jerusalem, 1975), 
pp. 1 1 1—18; and Bernard Lewis, Notes and documents from the Turkish archives: a contri- 
bution to the history of the Jews in the Ottoman Empire (Jerusalem, 1952). 

The Ottoman- Venetian association 159 

The battle of Lepanto followed a month later, on 6-7 October. Its result 
seemed to reverse the outcome at Famagusta. 

In this last great naval engagement in the early modern Mediterranean 
world a mighty armada of galleys and supporting vessels under the com- 
mand of Don Juan of Austria smashed an equally huge Ottoman fleet 
under the command of Muezzinzade Ali Pasha, who the previous year 
had replaced Piyale Pasha as kapudanpa§a. This battle is considered a 
classic of galley warfare, in which each commander positioned his ships 
perfectly, each fleet lined up and advanced against the other efficiently, 
and each unit carried out its task almost flawlessly. It may have been 
the innovative use of four Venetian galeasses, large merchant ships mod- 
ified for military use by the installation of cannon on unusually high 
superstructures, that won the battle for the Catholic League. Don Juan's 
strategy of placing these monsters in front of his armada and directing 
them to fire point blank and repeatedly into the enemy line as it swept 
around them may have worked to blunt and perhaps break the Ottoman 
formation and expose Ottoman galleys to deadly broadside and flank as- 
saults from a second and much more numerous line of Catholic-League 

Whether the principal reason for the outcome was the novelty of these 
vessels or the Ottoman failure to flank the opposing fleet on its left wing 
and force a "melee"-style battle, for which Muslim galleys were well 
adapted, the consequence was catastrophic for the Ottoman cause. Not 
only were most of 200 or so vessels captured or destroyed, but some 
30,000 Ottoman sailors and soldiers perished, Muezzinzade Ali Pasha 
among them. Catholic losses were negligible. 

Western Europe and its historiographers long considered this sea battle 
pivotal even as they played down the events on Cyprus. With the triumph 
of a Catholic league at Lepanto in 1571 after almost two centuries of 
humiliation, the balance was considered to have swung away from the 
Ottoman "pestilence." The combat also was said to have launched the 
decline of the Ottoman Empire, which thus occupied itself over the next 
350 years with slowly disintegrating. 

This interpretation has been contested and largely rebuffed.'^ One 
argument against it is that the Ottomans so quickly rebuilt their fleet after 
the debacle. They drew upon their enormous resources to recover from 
the destruction or capture of over 200 vessels; as anyone craning his neck 
from the Galata Tower could plainly see, the tempo of hard work at their 
principal arsenal on the Golden Horn became frenzied in the winter of 

'^ Most cogently by Andrew C. Hess, "The Battle of Lepanto and its place in IVlediter- 
ranean history," Past and Present 57(1972): 53-73. 


The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

Map 7 The iconography of this frontispiece from a 1631 history of 
the Turks suggests how alive a crusading mentality still was in western 
Europe even sixty years after the Battle of Lepanto. At the top stands 
Christ the king with awed but composed Christian soldiers to his right. 
To his left, though, cower defeated and terrified Muslim warriors. The 
triumphant crusader standing on defeated Muslims on the left side of 
the picture, and the enchained Turk with broken bow and arrow on the 
right side, reinforce this image. Baudier, Inventaire de I'histoire Generale 
du serrail. 

The Ottoman- Venetian association 161 

1571-72; and in the following spring the state launched an armada that, 
symbolically perhaps, was said to have reproduced exactly the number 
and draft of ships lost. These are hardly the actions of an exhausted and 
disheartened foe. Nevertheless, it has been convincingly argued that in 
galley warfare men were more vital than ships, particularly when those lost 
were skilled archers and oarsmen.'^ Lepanto certainly saw a devastating 
destruction of Ottoman manpower as well as armaments, and it seems 
likely that the armada that appeared on the seas in 1572 was shoddily 
manned. It is less certain that rival powers, stunned into inaction by the 
rapidity of Ottoman recovery, at all comprehended such defects, that the 
obstacle persisted for very long, or that it permanently halted Ottoman 
strikes into the western Mediterranean seas. 

The fact remains that in subsequent years the victors were not to press 
their advantage, and that this great achievement did not goad the al- 
liance of Catholic states forward. Indeed, Lepanto terminated the making 
of holy leagues against the "Turk" (although not aspirations to do so), 
and in fact constituted the last great naval encounter between Christian 
and Muslim powers. It may be seen as proof that "control of the seas" 
was an impossibility (and perhaps not even a strategy) in the age of the 

After 1571 the very nature of warfare on the Mediterranean changed, 
along with the composition of the participants. No longer did large and 
treasury-depleting armadas cruise open waters. Instead small, often self- 
interested fleets roamed the sea roads and coastlines, preying, usually 
indiscriminately, upon exposed communities and detached merchant ves- 
sels. This was the era of the corsair, the buccaneer, and the privateer, and 
it mattered little to the prey whether the flag flown by the hunter was 
Barbary, Dutch, English, French, Majorcan, Maltese, or Spanish.^" Not 
only could one's own countryman slash one's throat as easily as a for- 
eigner, but flags seldom meant anything to the thoroughly diverse sea- 
farers aboard such vessels. Furthermore, any assault could readily be 
justified, for in that world of multiple diasporas every Venetian vessel 
carried the persons or goods of Jewish and Muslim heathens and every 
Ottoman vessel those of Christians. Ottoman and Venetian mariners and 
merchants learned to dread the sighting of any mast on the horizon. 
Ironically the imperial stalemate that, more than anything else, Lepanto 
represented probably increased borderland porousness, for the world of 
the marauder, the smuggler, and the renegade was an accommodating 
one. It was the dissimulator who best survived. 

" Guilmartin, Gunpowder and galleys, pp. 250-52. 

See Fernand Braudel, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean world in the age of 
Philip II, trans. Sian Reynolds (New York, 1972), pp. 865-91. 

162 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

The Venetian drift eastward 

However fleeting the military advantage was for the holy alliance, its 
achievements at Lepanto certainly represented a heart-stirring triumph 
for the Pope and the Spanish, just as it constituted a psychological catas- 
trophe and an ill omen for the Ottomans. For the Venetians, despite their 
initial euphoria, the outcome was more ambiguous, and not only because 
of the simultaneous loss of Cyprus. By 1571 the Republic's sympathies 
and interests could no longer be unequivocally with western Europe. 
After all, it had been Christian kings and emperors who had ravaged 
the Veneto, Christian corsairs who had virtually destroyed the Venetian 
carrying trade, and Christian explorers who had undermined Venice's 
international commerce in spices and textiles. The Senators understood 
that both they and the Ottomans suffered from the plunder of Dutch and 
English privateers in the Mediterranean Sea and from the ventures of 
Portuguese sea peddlers in the Indian Ocean. Each Ottoman failure also 
damaged the Venetian capacity to trade; every Ottoman victory protected 
Venetian traffic in the eastern Mediterranean world. 

Indeed, the commercial nature of the Venetian Empire determined 
a particular dread of long sea wars that disrupted seaborne communi- 
cations and commerce. Francesco Guicciardini's observation about an 
earlier clash could just as well apply to this one: 

Having supported the war against the Turks with the greatest difficulties and 
boundless expenses and without any hope of gaining any profit therefrom, and 
besides all this, fearing so much more that they might be attacked at the same time 
by other Christian princes, the Venetians were always very desirous of reaching 
an accord of peace with the Turks.^' 

From worry about commercial loss and fear of adversaries in Italy itself, 
the Senate routinely urged its allies to engage swiftly with the Ottoman 
fleet, hoping for a quick and clean end to the conflict. Financial and com- 
mercial expediencies also pressured the Venetians to bargain promptly 
with their foe and to send their merchants into Ottoman ports and hin- 
terlands, often at the very moment their navies clashed. Even during the 
Cypriot war, which seemed so brutal on the ground and over which pas- 
sions seemed so intense, Ottoman merchants continued to ply their trade 
in Venice and Venetians carried on in Istanbul, Aleppo, and Alexandria. 
Such "business-as-usual" practices not only help explain the briefness 
of Ottoman— Venetian wars in the sixteenth century, but also produced 
allegations of faintheartedness and betrayal from allies whom Venice's 

^' The history of Italy, trans. Sidney Alexander (London, 1969), p. 177. 

The Ottoman- Venetian association 163 

acclaimed company of emissaries in Rome, Madrid, Vienna, and else- 
where worked so hard and cleverly to gain. 

At the root of Venetian indecisiveness was the Senators' recognition 
that their own allies were a greater threat to the city-state's commerce, 
based as it was upon the shipment of spices, silks, and other goods from 
the East into western Europe, than were the Ottomans. ^^ The Venetian 
banker Girolamo Priuli predicted as early as 1499 that the Portuguese 
discovery of an all-water route to Asia would ruin Venice's transconti- 
nental commerce, and the Portuguese explorer Pedro Cabral returned 
from India, the holds of his thirteen ships loaded with Indian pepper and 
other spices, in the third year of the Ottoman-Venetian War of 1499- 
1502. By then both the Ottomans and the Venetians were well aware of 
the presence of Portuguese ships in the Indian Ocean, and both govern- 
ments understood the Portuguese threat to overland commerce. Venice 
welcomed the Ottoman conquest of Syria and Egypt in the second decade 
of the sixteenth century as well as that Islamic state's launching of a fleet 
in the Red Sea as ventures aimed at quashing Portuguese incursions into 
the Indian Ocean. The Ottomans shared this enthusiasm; their conquests 
probably had more to do with Portuguese encroachments to the south- 
east than with vexation against the Mamluks or eagerness to oversee the 
sacred cities of Mecca and Medina. 

It constitutes a striking foil to the notion of fixed boundaries that trans- 
civilizational commerce persisted, even flourished, in the midst of the 
three Catholic-Ottoman conflicts of the sixteenth century. After (and 
even during) each war, more Ottoman and Venetian merchants resided 
in and freely wandered the other's territory. Venetian commercial colonies 
appeared not only in Galata. Venice also fashioned settlements in Edirne, 
Salonika, and (after 1517) Aleppo, Alexandria, and other Ottoman towns, 
a mutually beneflcial movement that seems to have quickened as the 
century advanced. As the Venetian navy weakened, the commercial im- 
perative overwhelmed the military and ideological constraints in that city- 
state's relations with the Ottomans. 

There are many causes for this apparent contradiction, not least of 
which was that the Venetian Empire always had been commercial. Given 
a choice between land masses or islands and coastal regions, the Senate 
always chose the latter. Even as early as the Catholic division of Con- 
stantinople after its conquest during the Fourth Crusade (1204), when 
the ferocious if blind Enrico Dandolo could have picked whatever he 
wished from the Byzantine carcass, the determined doge had confined 

On which see Brummett, Ottoman seapower and Levajitine diplomacy. 

164 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

Venetian appropriations to strategically placed islands, choice harbors, 
and the right to trade freely within all of former Byzantium. ^^ 

In 1204 Venice had carved a seaborne empire out of the disintegrated 
Byzantine polity. Nevertheless, its physical loss three centuries later did 
not necessarily signify the absolute collapse of the Venetian Empire. One 
alternative, which the Venetians pursued, was to turn to the Italian main- 
land, the Venetian terra firma, where trading routes and the demand for 
secure granaries and woodlands already had directed their aggressions. 
Scholars recently have emphasized this option. ^^ 

Venice did not simply abandon the seas because of Ottoman mastery, 
however. There were countless diasporas that thrived in the pax otto- 
manica and beyond on commerce alone, and the loss of its possessions 
might have injured the Serenissima's pride more than its seaborne power. 
What was critical for commerce was access not dominion, which in actual- 
ity probably drained Venetian resources, through the demand of colonies 
for protection, more than it benefited the city-state. As the Ottomans 
hacked away at first Byzantine and later Hungarian, Mamluk, and 
Venetian lands, Venice more and more concentrated upon its trading 
diaspora by ensuring that its merchants could inhabit and trade freely in 
the port towns and hinterlands of the unfolding Ottoman seaboards. 

^^ On Venice's role in the Fourth Crusade and Latin rule in Constantinople, see Donald 
M. Nicol, Byzantium and Venice: a study in diplomatic and cultural relations (Cambridge, 
1988), ch. 8. 

^* S. J. Wbolf, "Venice and the Terrafirma: problems of the change from commercial to 
landed activities," in Crisis and chajige in the Venetian economy in the sixteenth and seventeenth 
centuries, ed. Brian PuUan (Bungay, Suffolk, 1958), pp. 175—203. 

Kubad between worlds 

Anyone who saw the Venetians, a tiny nation Uving in such liberty that 
the worst rogue among them would not wish to be their king, . . . 
anyone, I say, who saw those people and then went to the realm of the 
man we call the Grand Signor, and saw how people there reckon that 
the sole purpose of their existence is to serve this man . . . would he 
reckon that these two nations shared a common nature, or would he 
not rather judge that he had left a city and entered a sheep fold?' 

Kubad finally left Venice on 12 February 1568. Even though he would have 
preferred the speedy and convenient journey by sea across the Adriatic and 
Aegean seas, he chose instead the land route from Dubrovnik and via Sarajevo 
and Edirne because of escalating strikes by Uskok and Maltese pirates against 
Ottoman shipping. Back in Istanbul he reported to his lords in the Imperial 
Divan and fulfilled his promise to the Venetian Senate by arranging for the 
obliteration of all references to Soranzo 's contract with di Segura. He even 
convinced the kadi ofGalata to tear his copy of the vexing certificate out of his 
ledger and burn it. 

Kubad's willingness to undertake this unlawful act derived partly from expec- 
tations for future rewards. Venetian relief at no longer being liable to Ottoman 
justice was enormous and a grateful bailo compensated the courier well. There 
was a darker cause, however. He could never have secured the kadi's consent 

' Etienne de La Boetie, Le discours de la servitude volontaire, ed. P. Leonard (Paris, 1976), 
p. 135; translated as Slaves by choice, trans. Malcolm Smith (Egham Hill, Surrey, 1988), 
p. 54; quoted in Valensi, Birth of the despot, p. 66. 

Catherine Wendy Bracewell, The Uskoks of Senj: piracy, banditry, and holy war in the 
sixteenth-century Adriatic (Ithaca, NY, 1992), pp. 58-59, cites a Venetian emissary to 
Archduke Charles who wrote in 1568 about the escalation of Uskok raiding: "for not 
only subjects of the Turk who have escaped from their places and have gone to live there 
are given refuge under the name of uskoks, but also many who have been banished from 
Ancona, Urbino, and Apulia, and also exiles from all the islands and nearby towns of 
Your Serenity, and deserters from the galleys, who act as guides and leaders for these 
wicked men." See also Kafadar, "Death in Venice," p. 200. 

^ Although we have no account of Kubad's report to the Imperial Divan, as a favug it is 
likely that he appeared before it. 


166 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

to destroy a page from his ledger (based as the pronouncements were upon the 
Shariah itself) without a direct order from the sultan. The seemingly treacherous 
exploit helped him gain the trust of Venetian officials, to carry on as a counselor 
to the hailo (from whom he collected a hefty fee), and to pass on intelligence to 
his grand vizier. In short, Kubad became a double agent. 

He was not so much informing on behalf of his sultan as of his grand vizier. 
Kubad knew that his government was riven with a factionalism in which the di 
Segura family was fully engaged through its co-religionist Don Joseph di Nassi. 
Nassi, the sultan's confidante and infamous provider of wine, had joined the 
chief Mufti Ebu's-Su'ud Efendi, Selim's boyhood guide Laid Mustafa Pasha, 
and Selim 's chief concubine Nurbanu Sultan (rumored ironically to be of 
Venetian parentage) in opposing Sokollu's policy, believed to be shamelessly 

Kubad of course had heard and dismissed the shocking gossip that Selim II 
had fallen under Nassi's influence and that he wanted Cyprus only because of 
its aromatic wines (exceptional though they were). The envoy was convinced 
that Selim 's genuine motive for invasion was the same as his father's had been in 
1522 when he took Rhodes: Cyprus had become an outpost for Christian pirates. 
Kubad sided with the war party and opposed his grand vizier in urging an 
immediate attack upon the Venetian Empire, whose intolerance vexed him and 
many of whose deficiencies he had fathomed during his five months in Venice. 
Indeed, his insistence that the conquest of Cyprus would assist the marketing 
of Anatolian mohair and especially intelligence gleaned from the bailo and his 
staff, whose trust he now possessed, proved influential in His Most Imperial 
Majesty's determination to move against the island. 

By voicing these opinions, Kubad opposed his grand vizier who he knew 
feared that an attack upon Cyprus would inspire the formation of a grand 
Catholic alliance against the young and untested sultan. In support of his con- 
cerns, the envoy had witnessed that fearsome and august gentleman rise before 

* Such agents seem to have been common in the Ottoman world. See, for two other possible 
examples, Virginia Aksan, "Is there a Turk in the Turkish Spy?," Eighteenth-Century Fiction 
6.3(1994): 201-14; and Roderick Conway Morris's curious ^em; memoirs of an ottoman 
secret agent (New York, 1988), a historical novel set in the time of Bayezid II (late 
fifteenth century) . 

^ Our best sources for such factionalisms are Ottoman chroniclers, who often were them- 
selves members of them (or at least had patrons who were), and who wrote almost 
obsessively and most scathingly about them. For this period the most accessible such 
work probably is Selaniki Mustafa Efendi, Tarih-i Selaniki, ed. Mehmet Ipsirli, 2 vols. 
(Istanbul, 1989). The most thoroughly examined such writer is Mustafa Ali, on whom 
see Fleischer, Bureaucrat and intellectual. The pedigrees of sultanic wives and concubines 
are notoriously difficult to ascertain. Nurbanu long was considered to have been born 
Cecelia Venier-Baffo, the illicit daughter of two Venetian aristocrats who was captured 
and presented to the sultan by Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha in 1537 (see Peirce, Imperial 
harem, p. 92). Benjamin Arbel, "Nur Banu (c. 1530-1583): a Venetian sultana?," Turcica 
24(1992): 241-59, casts considerable doubt upon this romantic tale. 

Kubad between worlds 167 

the Imperial Divan and thunderously read out a letter recently received from the 
Ottoman dependency of Dubrovnik, whose rulers kept a useful eye on develop- 
ments in Italy. This intelligence advised the imperial council that, in response 
to rumors of an Ottoman offensive, King Philip had contributed and outfitted 
100 vessels. They were even then en route to the Papal States to be used in 
defense of Venice or however else the pontiff chose. 

Despite such evidence of Christian readiness, the grand vizier's rivals con- 
vinced the sultan to mobilize his legions and besiege Cyprus. At Kubad's urging, 
though, the divan elected to play by the rules of international diplomacy and 
announce to the Venetian Senate its decision to attack the island, even though, 
given the Venetian possession's strategic and economic importance, there was no 
real hope that the Senate would peaceably relinquish it. In early 1570 Kubad 
convinced the divan to dispatch him, its expert on Venetian affairs, again to 
Venice to demand the secession of Cyprus. He arrived there on 28 March 1570, 
and immediately attained an audience with a doge frantic to delay the attack 
until he had concluded negotiations for aid from the Pope and other Catholic 
rulers. Kubad gave him no opportunity to stall, but informed him instead that 
the Ottoman assault would begin immediately. 

The envoy fully appreciated that he was the bearer of evil tidings, and that 
this ultimatum might effect a long confinement — or worse — in Venice. Such a 
response, Kubad reasoned, would simply be tit for tat, for the sultan routinely 
jailed the Venetian bailo during hostilities. Just as the envoy expected, his arrest 
was immediate. More surprisingly, his compatriots, both Muslim and non- 
Muslim, also were confined and their goods were confiscated, in reprisal, he 
later learned, for similar treatment of Venetian merchants in Istanbul. 

Threats from and negotiations with Istanbul and the urgencies of inter- 
national trade despite the intrusion of war soon led to the release of both 
Ottoman and Venetian expatriate communities. Kubad was not so lucky. He 
remained in Venice throughout the three-year war that saw the Ottoman con- 
quest of Cyprus, the formation of a Catholic Holy Alliance against the Ottoman 
Empire and its success in a grand naval engagement off the shores of Lepanto, 
the implausible resurrection of the Ottoman navy, and the hard negotiations that 

^ On Dubrovnik, see Francis W. Carter, Dubrovnik (Ragusa): a classic city-state (London, 
1972). The letter from the city state is extant (Basbakanlik Osmanli Arjivi, Miihimme 
Defteri 19, p. 118); there is no record that Mehmed Pasha recited it in the divan. 

^ On the doge's negotiations with other European states and the formation of a Christian 
Holy League, see Lane, Venice, p. 370. We do not know whether or not Kubad met 
with the doge; he had been active in negotiations in Istanbul (see Arbel, Trading nations, 
pp. 151-53). 

^ On treatment of the Ottoman nation in Venice during the Cypriot war see Kafadar, 
"Death in Venice," pp. 200-1; and Arbel, Trading nations, pp. 55-76. 

' The only evidence for this statement is that Kubad's opposite number, the bailo, re- 
mained imprisoned throughout the war. 

168 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

The envoy kept abreast of events through numerous visits from di Segura, 
Grimani, and his Circassian cousin. He also learned from his kinsman that the 
small band of Ottoman merchants bullheadedly had resumed their commercial 
ventures despite sporadic harassment from a frantic people as the Ottoman- 
Venetian war over Cyprus dragged on. 

In late September 1571 an exultant di Segura burst into the envoy's cell to 
report that Venetian Famagusta had fallen after a frightful ten-month siege. 
The Muslim and Jew sat long into the night debating this milestone's meaning, 
and especially whether, as rumored, Selim II would present the island to Joseph 
Mendes, the Jewish refugee from Portugal and Venice and current Duke of 

Only a few days later Kubad heard a wild bustle on the canals outside his 
dungeon. In a few moments an elated Grimani called to announce that the gal- 
ley Angelo Gabriele had just entered port trailing a bright crimson Ottoman 
banner and myriad turbans, scalped from the severed heads of janissaries, and 
bearing the news that the Catholic League had routed a huge Ottoman armada 
in the Gulf of Corinth. Again the 5avu§ spent long hours discussing the ram- 
ifications of this catastrophe. The Ottoman envoy, reminding Grimani of his 
own ancestor's misadventure at Negroponte some seventy years earlier and of 
Andrea Doria's catastrophe at Preveza some forty years after that, scornfully 
brushed aside his Catholic comrade's sanguine certainty that Charles V's nat- 
ural son Don Juan of Austria would now drive the Ottoman fleet against the 
very walls of the great city of Constantinople itself. 

In Venice, the Catholic triumph at Lepanto produced an exceptional im- 
broglio. Kubad had heard from his cell a jubilant and jeering mob threatening 
to slaughter his Muslim brethren, whose scattered and exposed condition in 
and around the Rialto only increased the danger. Luckily, the Venetian state 
had averted the threatened bloodbath by gathering the community together and 
guarding it with a phalanx of watchmen. 

As Kubad lay on his mat that chilly October night he could not sleep. Was it 
the icy bora howling down from the northeast that chilled his bones? Or was it 
the galling revelry that had burst with unprecedented energy across the city, and 
that he knew even then was reverberating also across all of Christian Europe? 

'" Such explosions hastened the Venetians to form an Oxxoman fondaco . 

Commerce and diasporas 

My Exalted Self commands the kadi and bey of Jerusalem: the bailo of 
Venice petitioned the Sublime Porte that those who visit Jerusalem 
from the subjects of the nobles of Venice should not be injured. Nor 
should any one of you interfere with the monks who live in the Church 
of the Holy Sepulchre. When they repair and renovate according to 
their old situation areas of that church which have fallen into ruin, they 
seek a command that it is in accordance with Venice's capitulations 
(ahdname and ni§ari). Such a decree is given to these Prankish 
monks. ' 

In Pera they speak Turkish, Greek, Hebrew, Armenian, Arabic, 
Persian, Russian, Slavonian, Wallachian, German, Dutch, French, 
English, Italian, Hungarian; and, what is worse, there is ten of these 
languages spoke in my own family. My grooms are Arabs, my footmen, 
French, English and Germans, my Nurse an Armenian, my 
housemaids Russians, half a dozen other servants Greeks; my steward 
an Italian; my Janissaries Turks, that I live in the perpetual hearing of 
this medley of sounds, which produces a very extraordinary effect 
upon the people that are born here. They learn all these languages at 
the same time and without knowing any of them well enough to write 
or read in it.^ 

One must turn to Ottoman history rather than western European history 
to explore how Venice and other western European states organized pres- 
ences in the Levantine world, for the underlying design of Ottoman so- 
ciety did much to accommodate and make possible the development 
of commercial and diplomatic settlements in the empire. During the 
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the Islamic state constructed a sys- 
tem, based upon a broad-minded interpretation of Islam's attitude toward 
rival monotheists, that provided inclusion for the Christians and Jews who 
populated the conquered lands of Anatolia and the Balkans. 

' Ba^bakanlikOsmanli Arsivi, EcnebiDefteri 13/l,p. 14, doc 1 (imperial decree, 1604-5). 

^ Lady Mary Wbrtley Montagu, The Turkish embassy letters, vntro. AniXaDe^ai, ed. Malcolm 

Jack (London, 1993), p. 122 (Lady Mary Montagu to Mady Mar, 16 March 1718). 


170 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

The non-Muslim in the Ottoman world 

Since the time of Muhammed (c. 570-632) Islam had confronted large 
communities of Jews and Christians almost everywhere it went. In 
response, the religion developed a doctrine not of impartiality but of 
indulgence, whereby those who followed the Torah or Christian Gospels 
(zimmi or "people of the Book") were allowed to live and worship 
according to their faiths in the Abode of Islam (dar al-Islarn) as sub- 
ject people in return for payment of a head tax {cizye) and certain other 
signs of subjugation. This precept enabled Christians and Jews to endure, 
and even to prosper, under the dominion of this rival faith. 

In subsequent centuries and in various places Islamic rulers and states 
had sometimes interpreted such Qur'anic pronouncements broadly and 
with tolerance; at other times they had defined them narrowly and 
harshly.^ The Ottomans, perhaps more from necessity than choice, em- 
braced the former course. The swift conquests of the fourteenth, fifteenth, 
and sixteenth centuries established an empire that demographically at 
least was predominantly Christian, which made it imperative that the 
authorities indulge these non-Muslim subjects as much as doctrinally 

The circumstances of conquest helped the Ottomans do so. The vast 
riches delivered to the imperial treasury permitted the state to reduce 
the head tax that, according to the Shariah, signified the subjugation of 
non-Muslims in an Islamic state. In some cases Jewish and Christian 
communities even negotiated relatively negligible lump-sum payments 
(maktu') in return for sweeping social and judicial autonomy.^ The state 
often eased sumptuary restrictions, despite Qur'anic restrictions on non- 
Muslim wealth and display, and authorized the restoration of ruined 
churches and synagogues. Through such devices the Ottomans were able 
to obey the letter of the law even as they ameliorated its execution. At 
times the state went even further, for example by sanctioning the raising 
of new Christian or Jewish houses of worship in direct violation of Islamic 

Mehmed II codified the previously tacit relationship with non-Muslim 
subjectpeoples when, with the conquest of Constantinople, the Ottomans 
inherited the spiritual as well as the political nucleus of Byzantium. The 
new monarch had not only to reform the political administration and 
economy of the ancient capital, but also to either reorganize or abol- 
ish the hierocracy of the Greek Orthodox church. Mehmed chose the 

^ A good treatment of this subject in regard to Jews and especially in comparison to the 

Christian world is Cohen, Under crescent and cross. 
* On which see "Maktu*^," EI. 

Commerce and diasporas 171 

former course and appointed Gennadius Scholarius, who had welcomed 
Ottoman incorporation as the preferable alternative to orthodox union 
with Rome, as the first Greek Orthodox Patriarch under Ottoman do- 
minion. On 5 January 1454 the sultan instated Gennadius as Patriarch 
and presented to him a "charter" (ahdname) - to be renewed or abrogated 
by each succeeding monarch — that delineated the organization, entitle- 
ments, and responsibilities of the Greek Orthodox community. With the 
full weight of Ottoman authority behind him, it also granted Gennadius 
far more intra-communal power than his predecessors had ever carried 
in imperial Byzantium. 

Not only did the Patriarch, his subordinates, and his successors as- 
sume responsibility for the religion, laws, conduct, and tax payments 
of the Ottoman Greek Orthodox community, but Mehmed and his ad- 
visors also devised parallel organizations for the growing communities 
of Ottoman Armenians and Jews. This communal strategy, which never 
before the nineteenth century had any ethnic, geographic, or linguistic in- 
tent or justification, was not fully formed in the fifteenth century: not only 
was each organization rather ad hoc, but each refiected the particular re- 
quirements and qualities of its own religious community. The Armenian 
Gregorian Patriarch never attained the authority of his Greek Orthodox 
counterpart, largely because the Armenian community was so scattered 
and so much of it lived beyond the boundaries of the Ottoman Empire 
and thus beyond the Patriarch's control. The Grand Rabbi's authority 
was even more restricted, for the Ottoman Jewish community retained 
the largely decentralized political structure that had evolved during the 
oppressive Byzantine interval. Outside of Istanbul (and often even within 
that city's many synagogal quarters), leaders other than the Grand Rabbi 
retained much authority over their communities. 

Over the next few centuries the societies and administrations of each 
of the three principal non-Muslim subject peoples were to evolve along 
distinct trajectories. Nevertheless, from their very inception these or- 
ganizations (they only much later came to be called millets) did grant 
their members considerable autonomy. Especially in the spiritual, eco- 
nomic, and judicial spheres the state's policy of non-interference imparted 
to them the prospect of carving out productive niches in the Ottoman 

Heterogeneity thus came to distinguish Ottoman society, especially 
along its seaboards and borderlands where the exigencies of war and 
the opportunities of commerce tended to diversify economies and throw 
together sundry peoples and ideas. Virtually every Ottoman city came 
to boast a rich ethnic and linguistic diversity colorfully woven through 
groups that defined themselves as Gregorian Armenian, Orthodox Greek, 

172 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

Jewish, or Muslim. Despite some vocational specialization, these commu- 
nities mixed freely in the markets and industrial districts that constituted 
their work places. Their residential neighborhoods leaned more toward 
segregation, clustering around churches, mosques, or synagogues^ nev- 
ertheless even in this more personal environment there was some re- 
ligious and ethnic mingling. In Ankara, Istanbul, Salonika, and other 
early modern Ottoman cities commercial districts were likely to become 
a melange of peoples, and neighborhoods {mahalles) were apt to remain 
mainly (but not exclusively) Christian, Jewish, or Muslim. The Ottoman 
strategy of simultaneously welcoming non-Muslims into the polity and 
denying equality to them generated a municipal hodgepodge of faiths and 
peoples who, even as they lived and worked together, conserved ever- 
changing but often separate religious, legal, cultural, and at times even 
ethnic identities. 

Dealing with aliens 

Just as 1453 was a pivotal year in creating an Ottoman religious strategy, 
so was it decisive in the settlement of foreign subjects in the empire, for in 
that year the sultan inherited and had to manage not only Constantinople 
but also the Latin colony of Galata. Unlike the great city itself, the suburb 
of Galatahad submitted to Mehmed's army without a fight. Consequently 
the sultan was not obliged to give it over to his troops to plunder. Instead 
he could construct his own relationship with the place. The outcome was 
a solemn pledge, presented as an imperial decree (named an ahdname, 
just as was Gennadius's proclamation), by which Mehmed contracted 
to leave intact the Genoese Council (the Magnifica Communita di Pera), 
grant the district legal and some political autonomy, and concede its 
alien inhabitants the freedom to trade in Ottoman domains. In return 
the Latins relinquished their weapons, quieted their church bells (which 
Mehmed and other Muslims seem to have found particularly galling), had 
their town walls pierced at strategic spots, and began paying a head tax. 
From one perspective this ahdname exemplified a link between the 
Byzantine and the Ottoman periods. Latins (and since the Fourth Cru- 
sade particularly the Genoese) had replicated in Byzantine Galata an 
Italian city, complete with Gothic tower, Italianate churches, and pi- 
azzetta. Its character as an outpost for Italian culture continued under 
the Ottomans. Mehmed, looking for every advantage against his Venetian 
foes, even invited Florentine merchants to settle there and granted them 
indulgent liberties. Other Europeans soon followed, including first more 
Italians (Venetians among them) and later the French, the English, and 

Commerce and diasporas 173 

the Dutch. Galata thrived under Ottoman rule. It became the commercial 
heart of the city, and, pushing slowly up the hill at its back into the vine- 
yards and orchards of Pera, drew to its Italianate ambience ambassadors 
from Europe and their retinues and hangers-on. 

In another sense Mehmed's bargain with the Genoese simply followed 
a legacy handed down from the Islamic world and more specifically 
from rival western Anatolian emirates. Venetian colonies long had ex- 
isted in the cities of the Mamluk Empire, and as early as 1331 the emir 
of Mente§e, who controlled the caravan and sea roads at the southwest- 
ern corner of Anatolia, had concluded a commercial arrangement with 
Marino Morosini, the Venetian Duke of Cretan Candia. Six years later the 
same Duke concluded an accord with the emir of Aydm, who commanded 
a powerful navy based in the Anatolian port of Smyrna. Then in 1352 the 
Ottoman emir Orhan himself signed a similar contract with the Genoese, 
which yielded to its merchants access to Bursa and the caravan roads that 
radiated from that newly vanquished town. Looking for allies against the 
aggressive Venetian Empire in the Levant, Orhan probably signed this 
pact more as a political than a commercial tactic. Nevertheless, a similar 
agreement that Murad signed with his Venetian rivals themselves in the 
1380s confirms also an Ottoman appreciation for trade. 

Indeed, these pacts were principally commercial in layout and purpose, 
for they conceded to Latin merchants access to the vital caravan roads that 
ran through Turkoman-held towns such as Bursa and Smyrna in return 
for earnings from tariffs and other dues. They also facilitated political, ide- 
ological, and cultural objectives, however. The emirs gained Christian al- 
lies and acceptance into the eastern Mediterranean community of states, 
which helped to legitimize their governments, to achieve independence 
from their Seljuk overlords to the east, and to normalize their interna- 
tional relations. Orhan's 1327 striking of silver coins embossed with his 
name, only one year after the Ottoman conquest of Bursa, probably was 
as much a revenue- and visibility-producing scheme - generated through 
the circulation of Ottoman coinage along the caravan corridors - as a po- 
litical maneuver, symbolizing as it did an assertion of independence. The 
Latins, meanwhile, not only gained allies and riches but also attained a 
better understanding of these important and potentially dangerous new 
states through access to their towns, subjects, and rulers. 

Despite these precedents, Mehmed's ahdname of 1453 also was inno- 
vative; it constituted an ingenious twist on the emerging Ottoman ap- 
proach toward its non-Muslim subjects. To the western outlanders the 
agreement may have seemed merely an arrangement that let them sustain 
and even expand their lucrative commerce under thepix>c ottomanica. The 


The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

25 This funeral procession is at Eyub, the holiest soil in the vicinity of 
Istanbul and considered by the Ottomans as the fourth most important 
Islamic site after Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem. It was here that Eyub 
Ensari, companion to the Prophet Muhammed, had been buried after 
he was martyred during the first siege of Constantinople (674-78). It 
also was here that ascending Ottoman sultans girded their swords and 
assumed their offices in public ceremony. D'Ohsson, Tableau general de 
I'Empire othoman, vol. I, after p. 248. 

Ottomans, however, perceived it also as a first step in the absorption of 
the foreigners into the "Abode of Islam," as according to Islamic law it 
was. Such agreements confirmed that the westerners were mere visitors 
(muste'min), and consequently able to retain allegiance to other, even 
non-Islamic, states and come and go at will. The length of residency 
theoretically was limited to one year only, however, and by consenting 
also to the imposition of a head tax (cizye) the European sojourners ex- 
posed themselves to eventual absorption through the category of zimmi. 
In theory at least the sojourner could become a subject simply by over- 
staying his welcome. 

This is not to suggest that the sultan and his advisors necessarily in- 
tended this outcome (although there is some evidence that Mehmed 
had such a gradual incorporation in mind). Nevertheless, the kadi of 
Pera and his colleagues across the empire tended to envisage and to 

Commerce and diasporas 175 

treat alien inhabitants as they did other non-Muslim Ottoman subjects. 
After all, these magistrates were medrese-trained members of the ulema. 
They had immersed themselves in Islamic law and managed their wards 

Extant Ottoman records from the early seventeenth century are packed 
with the protests of European diplomats against Ottoman officials who 
dared to try to manage them and their dependents as they did other 
Ottoman subjects. One, issued in 1605, records the Venetian bailo's in- 
sistence that Ottoman officials should not register the houses of his five 
dragomans and stewards in the tax rolls of subject non-Muslims. A sec- 
ond, promulgated just months later, resists the attempts of collectors to 
extract customs, janissary guards protection money, and candle-makers 
suet on livestock butchered for Venetian diplomats in Galata, Istanbul, 
and Uskiidar. A third, issued in the following year, states bluntly that 
Venetian merchants with shops in Galata and Istanbul "paid their cus- 
toms and should not be put in the same category as non-Muslim Ottoman 
subjects in contradiction to the terms of their ahdname."^ 

Such complaints thread through relations between Ottoman officials 
and resident foreign communities. They are even more vividly displayed 
on the island of Chios, which as we have seen the Ottomans conquered 
in 1566 and aspired to transform into a de facto free port. Within decades 
local officials sought to impose zimmi status upon those Chian Latins who 
had remained after the conquest. In 1615 locals demanded extraordinary 
taxes {avanz and kasabiye) from a Venetian merchant who had "lived on 
Chios for a long time." Two years later and again in 1618 the Venetian 
bailo complained in the imperial divan that local collectors demanded the 
head tax from subjects of Venice who lived and traded on the island.^ Such 
protests display tension over status that often is interpreted as Ottoman 
greed and corruption. While it is true that the Ottoman bureaucracy 
probably was no less venal than other bureaucracies, the circumstances 
nevertheless illustrate most strikingly different perceptions of the position 
the foreigner should assume in Ottoman society. 

In short, although the ahdname that Mehmed presented to the Genoese 
in 1453 and those that followed certainly did ease commercial and so- 
cial relations, they also signified one thing to the Ottoman mind and 
quite another to the alien European one. Furthermore, even within a spe- 
cific context the impact of the tension between these culturally specific 
meanings changed over time. For example, because of drastically altered 

' Ba^bakanlik Osmanli Arsivi, Ecnebi Defteri 13/1, p. 28, no. 6; p. 29, no. 4; and p. 35, 

no. 5. 
^ Basbakanlik Osmanli Arsivi, Ecnebi Defteri 13/1, p. 120, no. 1; p. 150, no. 1; p. 178, 

no. 2. 

176 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

circumstances the terms that Mehmed II granted to the Genoese differed 
markedly from the more indulgent ones that the Sublime Porte was to 
grant to the French in 1569. 

Venice's city-state rivals 

The Ottomans had politics as much as commerce in mind when they 
negotiated and distributed capitulations. Just as a principal impetus for 
Orhan to grant the Genoese commercial agreements in the 1350s was 
mutual antipathy toward Venice, so was the long Ottoman-Venetian War 
(1463-79) a motivation for Mehmed II to favor Florentine traders in the 
late fifteenth century. Indeed, until almost 100 years later it was Mediter- 
ranean city-states rather than emerging Atlantic seaboard nation states 
such as France, England, and the Netherlands that the Venetians strug- 
gled to fend off in their contest for Ottoman commerce. Most of the time 
the Venetians prospered. During each Ottoman— Venetian war, however, 
Ancona, Florence, Genoa, Dubrovnik, or some combination of these 
cities were able to improve their commercial circumstances at Venetian 

Florence especially benefited from the long war between Venice and 
the Ottoman Empire that marked the second half of Mehmed IPs reign. ^ 
Land-locked Florence, acclaimed for its fine woolen textiles, had had to 
funnel its precious commodity eastward by way of Venice and in the holds 
of Venetian ships until it secured the city of Pisa and its port of Livorno 
(Leghorn) in 1421 . Thereafter its merchants attempted to break into the 
Ottoman market directly, an endeavor that their Italian rivals effectively 
blocked until the 1450s. 

Mehmed II was sensitive to the paradox that his principal maritime ri- 
val Venice was also his chief trading partner in the Mediterranean world. 
After 1453 the sultan began to promote one of Venice's primary Ital- 
ian rivals, Florence, in an attempt to break this dependence. Not only 
did Florence secure capitulations from Mehmed, but as early as 1454 
Florentine ships laden with woolens began anchoring at Istanbul. In the 
midst of growing tensions between Venice and the Ottomans, the empire 
in 1462 expelled many Venetians from government houses in Galata and 
installed Florentines in their places. During the first years of the war, 
business between Ottomans and Florentines replaced the lost Veneto- 
Ottoman nexus, and flourished. 

Florentine achievements proved ephemeral. Not only was the seaborne 
route from Livorno lengthy, but also that anchorage remained minor until 

'' inalcik, "Ottoman state," pp. 230-34. 

Commerce and diasporas 177 

the Duke of Tuscany made it a free port in the 1590s. Furthermore, 
the Venetians simply were too entrenched in the eastern-Mediterranean 
world for another Italian state to dislodge them without sustained 
Ottoman assistance. Florentine prosperity depended upon a support- 
ive Ottoman policy; when that patronage flagged (as it did after the peace 
of 1479) the new association languished. 

In addition, Mehmed's abrupt promotion of the Florentines derived 
not from affection or even merely from political scheming; it was simply 
that the Ottomans had no alternatives to Latin merchants. For at least 
two centuries Italians had dominated Mediterranean commercial corri- 
dors. They settled their primacy in 1204 with the sack and occupation 
of the Byzantine capital, and until the late fifteenth century there was no 
assembly of Ottoman merchants who could challenge them. By 1500, 
however, several plausible rivals had arisen out of the Ottoman jumble of 
peoples. There were the Sephardic Jews, expelled from Iberia and reset- 
tled in Salonika, Istanbul, and other Ottoman cities as well as a scattering 
of port towns across the Mediterranean world and beyond; there were 
the Armenians who capitalized upon their management of the silk routes 
westward out of Persia to manufacture a far-flung trading diaspora;^ and 
there were semi-autonomous dominions on the fringes of the Ottoman 
realm - entities such as Dubrovnik, Wallachia, and Chios — whose vol- 
untary if sometimes wavering alignments with the Ottoman behemoth 
presented to them, it is true, the danger of absorption into that empire, 
but also offered the immense opportunities of a vast commercial hin- 
terland in their Ottoman backyards. Such Ottoman subject peoples and 
dependencies matured into viable trading blocks, and as Venice became 
less of a military threat the Ottoman government lost interest in playing 
one Italian state off against another for military or commercial gain and 
began instead promoting its own merchants. 

The case of Catholic, Italian-speaking Dubrovnik is particularly per- 
tinent because it so resembled an Italian city-state and often competed 
directly with Venice.^ Not only did this Dalmatian port town share with 
the Republic of St. Mark access to the Adriatic Sea, but also - despite 
some competition from Ottoman Adriatic ports such as Avlonya and after 
1570 the Venetian Spalato - its location made it a western gateway into 
the Ottoman Balkans and their rich markets. Dubrovnikan merchants 
carried grains, salt, leathers, and wools into Italy and textiles and bullion 
into the Balkans. 

The city-state's deliberate vassalage to the Ottoman Empire let it max- 
imize its geographic position. Its peculiar station within the dar al-ahd 

^ On these and other such commercial networks see Curtin, Cross-cultural trade. 
^ Inalcik, "Ottoman state," pp. 256—69. 

178 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

(Abode of the Covenant), a kind of theoretical middle ground between 
the Abode of Islam and the Abode of War, also accorded Dubrovnik a 
permanent sort of most-favored-nation status in trade within Ottoman 
domains, which it paid for with a hefty tribute. Colonies of Dubrovnikan 
merchants settled in major Ottoman cities throughout the empire. They 
also fanned out through the Balkans and came to dominate inter-regional 
trade in that province, where, as a conduit to the Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik 
enjoyed the advantage of location. 

The city-state honed this competitive edge through frequent and of- 
ten effective petitions to the Sublime Porte against aggressive Ottoman 
pirates, harassing local officials, and its imperious Venetian competitors. 
Dubrovnik claimed and received Ottoman protection from the sea-gazis 
who darted out of such Ottoman Albanian ports as Avlonya, Durazzo, 
and Bar to raid Christian shores and prey upon Venetian and other Chris- 
tian shipping. The Sublime Porte also shielded Dubrovnikan colonies 
in Rodosfuk, Edirne, and elsewhere from attempts to register them for 
various levies and taxes, and saved from Venetian encroachment the 
city-state's monopoly over salt brought to Bosnia and Hercegovina. The 
Ottoman government even condemned and threatened reprisals against 
the Venetians because of a naval blockade of Dubrovnik and raids against 
it in 1617.'° Such privileges and protection helped frustrate Venice's 
many efforts to upset Dubrovnik's robust trade in its Balkan hinterlands. 

Despite Dubrovnik's competitive edge domestically, in the interna- 
tional arena it ordinarily could not compete with Venice and other Italian 
states, and it thrived only when links between Venice and the Ottoman 
Empire collapsed utterly. Just as Florence had profited from the long 
fifteenth-century conflict, so during later Ottoman— Venetian wars did 
Dubrovnik's traffic burgeon. The principal cause in each case was Vene- 
tian distress, and Dubrovnik's ability to move aggressively into estab- 
lished Venetian markets increased enormously the Serenissima's need 
to maintain and make peace with the Ottoman Empire. For the most 
part, it succeeded. None of the three sixteenth-century wars lasted long 
enough for Dubrovnik to gain much advantage. The last great Ottoman- 
Venetian clash, the Cretan War (1645-69), was much longer than any 
previous conflict, however, and during it Dubrovnik's international com- 
merce simply exploded. When the conflict began, Venice's challenger 
drew perhaps 20,000 ducats from the transit trade; by 1669 income had 
grown to about 500,000 (a 25-fold increase!); within a year after the 
Ottoman conquest of Venetian Crete it had plummeted again to about 

'" Basbakanlik Osmanli Arsivi, Ecnebi Defteri 13/1, p. 4, no. 1; p. 3, no. 2; p. 84, no. 2; 
p. 145, no. 1. 

Commerce and diasporas 179 

60,000.'' Venice must have suffered greatly — although it was still able to 
rebound quickly - from this extreme oscillation in commercial fortune; 
nonetheless, during the earlier sixteenth-century wars the Republic had 
endured relatively little financial distress. 

Venice's Ottoman challengers 

As these statistics suggest, in ordinary times Dubrovnik was no more 
able to compete with Venice's vast commercial experience and empire 
than were the Florentines. Each depended for prosperity not only upon 
Ottoman backing but also upon Ottoman repudiation of their Venetian 
competitor. Other Ottoman subject communities, however, could and 
did learn to challenge the Italian state's primacy. Principal among these 
in the sixteenth century were Jewish and Armenian subjects of the 

When the Ottomans came on the scene in the fourteenth century, a 
scattering of Jews already existed throughout the European and Mediter- 
ranean worlds. Centuries of coexistence with and accommodation to 
dominant societies — whether Mamluk, Byzantine, Italian, Germanic, or 
Spanish — had fractured these communities into a cacophony of lifestyles 
and beliefs. Even though they retained their Jewish identities, cultur- 
ally Jews living in the Mamluk Empire much more closely resembled the 
Muslims with whom they shared Arab lands than they did their Germanic 
or Spanish brethren, who ate different foods, spoke different languages, 
embraced different attitudes toward marriage and family, and even prac- 
ticed their religion in radically different ways. 

Partly through conquest and partly through immigration, the Ottoman 
Empire drew together representatives from all of these types. Many settled 
in Istanbul, which by 1477 boasted over 1,500 Jewish households. Others 
lived elsewhere, in cities such as Safed, Jerusalem, Manisa, Alexandria, 
and Salonika. The last of these is perhaps both the most distinctive and 
most indicative of Jewish settlement in the empire. It seems that whereas 
no Jews lived in Salonika in 1478, by 1519 twenty-four Jewish congre- 
gations (kehilloi) each with its own synagogue and rabbi comprised over 
half of the city's population.'^ It had become and long remained the only 
"Jewish" city in the world. 

It also, and obviously, was a city of immigrants, to which Jews 
from throughout the European and Mediterranean worlds had flocked. 
Conveniently for tracing these migrations, congregations in the empire 

" Carter, Dubrovnik, p. 397. 

'^ Bernard Lewis, The Jews of Islam (Princeton, NJ, 1984), p. 126. 

1 80 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

often identified themselves according to their places of origin. Those 
in Salonika were no exception. Their appellations - Apulia, Aragon, 
Calabria, Castilian, Catalan, Corfu, Evora of Portugal, German, Italy, 
Lisbon, Maghrib, Otranto, Provencal, Saragossa of Aragon, Sicily, and 
Spain — suggest diverse origins, congregational exclusivity, and Iberian 

These congregations at first fought bitterly over ritual, language, and 
what to do about the "marranos" (Jews who had been forced to renounce 
their religion in Catholic Spain and Portugal) who began trickling into the 
Ottoman Empire in the late fifteenth century and whose rejection of mar- 
tyrdom Jews from northern Europe (Ashkenazim) particularly scorned. 
Despite their squabbling the overriding identity of this eclectic ingath- 
ering remained religious, and the congregations gradually resolved (or 
learned to live with) their differences. The amalgam they produced, while 
primarily Spanish (thus their heirs' appellation today as "Sephardim"), 
was infused also with elements from the Germanic, Arab, Byzantine, and 
other legacies. 

The contributions of these subjects to the Ottoman body politic were 
considerable and varied. They brought with them from Iberia and Italy 
innovative methods of textile production and doctoring, helped develop 
and institutionalize Ottoman financial administration and tax gathering, 
and advanced Ottoman civilization in myriad other ways. They also, and 
more relevantly here, furthered the integration of the Ottoman Empire 
into the rest of Europe, particularly in the realms of commerce and 

The community's far-fiung diaspora was instrumental in its commer- 
cial vigor. Not only did Spanish Jews resettle all along the Ottoman lit- 
toral, but they also established districts in Venice, Genoa, and other Ital- 
ian states. As the sixteenth century progressed they even reintroduced 
themselves to Bordeaux, London, and other Atlantic seaboard cities from 
which their ancestors had been expelled centuries before, and established 
connections with their German co-religionists in Hamburg, Amsterdam, 
and elsewhere. Typically, the exiles from Spain and Portugal installed 
themselves in Christian European cities as converts rather than as Jews. 
Only later could they repudiate the faith that the Iberians had forced 
upon them. Even as "conversos," however, they often organized commer- 
cial links with Sephardic Jews in the Ottoman Empire and other cities in 
the rest of Europe, thereby advancing the new commercial net spreading 
out from the Levant as well as the process of binding together the two 

'^ On Jewish settlement in the empire, see Levy, Sephardim, pp. 14-28. 

Commerce and diasporas 181 

Such was exactly the procedure that the best-known and wealthiest 
Ottoman-Jewish family of the sixteenth century undertook. The Portu- 
guese Jews Beatrice da Luna and her nephew Joao Miguez (members of 
the influential Mendes family) converted in Lisbon under pressure from 
the monarchy and then fled the Inquisition along with thousands of other 
conversos. In their Catholic guises they migrated to Antwerp, and when the 
Spanish Inquisition established itself there escaped first to Lyon and then 
to Venice. At each stop the Mendes family established links with resident 
marranos and Jews, building a commercial network and their fortunes. 
By the 1540s the Mendes family had a substantial stake in the European 
spice trade, and in 1553 da Luna, at the invitation of the Ottoman gov- 
ernment, resettled for a last time in Istanbul. Her nephew soon followed, 
bringing with him much of their money and forming through this reloca- 
tion an Ottoman center to their vast commercial network. ^^ Once safely 
in Ottoman lands they also peeled off their Catholic veneers. 

Da Luna and Miguez were only the most eminent of the many marranos 
who entered the Ottoman domain during the sixteenth century. Joao in 
particular became known for his political dabblings. Although his power 
is often exaggerated, he probably was a confidante to several Ottoman 
viziers, encouraged the Ottoman boycott of the Pope's port of Ancona 
in 1554, supplied Selim II with fine wines from Cyprus, Crete, and else- 
where, nearly monopolized the export of Ottoman wines to Poland, and 
perhaps helped promote the Ottoman invasion of Cyprus in 1570. Nev- 
ertheless, there is little evidence that either he or other Ottoman Jews 
had real leverage over Ottoman policy, or even that he held a particular 
vendetta against Venice or Catholicism or that he tried to manipulate 
Ottoman authorities against them. Much to the contrary, perhaps as- 
piring to gain access into the city-state's lucrative market, Miguez, now 
the Duke of the island of Nassi, several times defended Venice against 
Ottoman censure. 

Venice and the Ottoman-Jewish community nevertheless considered 
each other as dangerous commercial rivals. The Iberians' migration into 
the Ottoman Empire brought them also into the heart of the battered 
Venetian realm at the very moment when the Republic was most vulner- 
able, as it strained to transform itself from a political into a commercial 
empire. Sephardic settlements in Salonika, Istanbul, Aleppo, Alexandria, 
and other Levantine cities menaced Venetian pre-eminence in the eastern 

'* Much of what has been written on the marranos and the Mendes family is hagiographic. 
Two brief and clear expositions on their power and commerce are Arbel, Trading nations, 
pp. 55-65; and Halil Inalcik, "Capital formation in the Ottoman Empire," Journal of 
Economic History 19(1969): 121-23. 

182 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

Even more threatening to Venetian trade than the superb matrix of 
this commercial network were the abilities of the new immigrants to 
blend into and exploit both local and imperial Ottoman political and 
administrative organizations. The Ottoman state showed a willingness 
to rely on Sephardic Jews - who after all not only were Ottoman sub- 
jects but also could be trusted as comrade victims of Christian, and es- 
pecially Habsburg, oppression - far more than on Florentines or even 
Dubrovnikans. Because of the government's confidence as well as the 
community's particular aptitudes, its members for a time came to domi- 
nate Ottoman tax farming, collection of customs, and financial advising 
to the Ottoman elite. The combination of their experience at the core of 
Ottoman administration and their diasporic existence made the Ottoman- 
Jewish community formidable competitors in the cut-throat world of 
Mediterranean and European commerce. The danger of losing to them 
lucrative trade, industry, and markets constituted yet another incentive 
for Italians and other Europeans to absorb and accommodate themselves 
to Ottoman behavior. 

Nor were the Jews the only Ottoman subject people who rose to com- 
mercial prominence and threatened Italian arteries of commerce. Mus- 
lim traders dominated many Ottoman exchanges and a few international 
routes, particularly to the north and the east. More of a threat in the 
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, however, was the Armenian com- 
munity, a close-knit yet dispersed people who exploited communal char- 
acteristics as well as Ottoman flexibility to build a formidable trading 
diaspora. Even though the heyday of their trading network did not come 
until the seventeenth century, when Armenian dominance of the silk road 
from Persia across Ottoman Anatolia stimulated their economic activi- 
ties also in the Mediterranean, European, and Indian worlds, Armenian 
settlements for centuries had existed in principal Middle Eastern and 
Mediterranean cities and served as the glue for various trading routes. 
Armenian communities inhabited Akkerman, Kaffa, Baghdad, Aleppo, 
Damascus, Bursa, and Istanbul; from these sites Armenian traders helped 
connect the Ottoman and Persian worlds to Poland, Russia, and India. 
Particularly in the Black Sea region, where even before the Ottoman 
conquest of Kaffa in 1475 Armenian merchants had begun patronizing 
trading centers, they constituted a notable rival to Italian and especially 
Genoese communities of traders. 

Whereas Ottoman Jews became pivotal in linking the Islamic and 
Christian worlds, the Armenians, also a community marginalized in sev- 
eral rich civilizations, helped bridge the chasm not only between the 
Sunni world of the Ottoman Empire and the Shi'a world of Safavid 
Persia, but also between Christian, Islamic, and even Hindu civilizations. 

Commerce and diasporas 183 

Since neither the Ottoman nor Safavid states allowed the other's Muslim 
subjects to settle and trade in its domains, the Armenians eventually 
found themselves virtually monopolizing the movement of silks and other 
luxury goods between these two great empires and from them to the rest 
of the world. 

The Ottomans in Renaissance diplomacy 

However ambivalent the status of "alien" in Galata and elsewhere in the 
Ottoman realm was to become, Mehmed IPs imperial decree issued to 
the Genoese of Galata in 1453 did allow foreigners to live in this remote 
world securely and according to their own laws and religious practices. 
The ahdname of Galata also became the prototype for a series of agree- 
ments between the Ottoman Empire and other governments that became 
known in western European parlance as "capitulations." The first of these 
immediately followed the conquest of Constantinople as Italian commer- 
cial powers - the Genoese, the Florentines, the Venetians - rushed to 
safeguard their stakes in the commerce of the eastern Mediterranean and 
Black Sea regions. France and the Ottoman Empire first negotiated - 
but probably never ratified — an agreement in 1536 during their anti- 
Habsburg rapprochement, finally sanctioning such capitulations only in 
1569. England, the Netherlands, and other European powers followed 
suit in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. 

These documents came to symbolize not only the framework for links 
between the Ottoman government and the rest of Europe but also the rela- 
tive positions of diplomatic and commercial representatives of other Euro- 
pean states within the empire. For example, if Venice carried the choicest 
capitulatory terms at the beginning of Sultan Siileyman's reign, by the end 
of the century France and England had supplanted the Italian city-state. 
Such shifts refiect in part the rise of the western European state. They 
also exhibit Ottoman efforts to reward the enemies of its Habsburg rivals. 

In the early modern period the Ottoman government did not conceive 
of such capitulations as treaties between equals. Rather, the Ottomans 
imagined the foreigners as members of a particular taife, or group, living 
within their polity. ^^ Just as the state bestowed particular privileges upon 
religious, economic, and social clusters, so did it grant certain favors to 
subjects of foreign states; just as the state required from its subjects taxes 
and imposed upon them sumptuary conditions in return for these privi- 
leges, so did it demand from foreign merchants and envoys a surcharge 
upon goods traded and certain restrictions in residences and attire. 

'^ On which see Goffman, '" Millets," pp. 139-41. 

184 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 


it U-^jiff^ 
era S) 

^^aijt*^ * 

26 Pera lies just above Galata, across the Golden Horn from Istanbul. 
In the sixteenth century, it became the quarter where diplomats lived, 
and drew a large number of non-Muslim Ottomans. This woman models 
the attire of a Greek inhabitant. Nicolay, Le navigationi et viaggi nella 

Commerce and diasporas 185 

However mercantile the Ottoman purpose may have seemed in award- 
ing capitulations to other kingdoms, the arrangement also served to im- 
plant foreign diplomatic and cultural presences in the Ottoman realm. 
Galata not only became the commercial heart of the empire, but also - 
with its hauntingly western European architecture, churches, lingua 
franca, and ambassadors - was perceived even before 1453 as a Latin 
outpost in the Levantine world. Similar quarters soon were installed in 
other Ottoman cities and by the end of the century an array of such sites 
existed.'^ It was during the late fifteenth century that Italian city-states 
began earnestly to heed the kingdom surging from their east. It also was 
during this period that Italy is said to have invented the system of diplo- 
matic representation that soon spread northward throughout Europe, and 
whose basic pattern is employed to this day in relations between nation 
states, fashioning this new diplomacy in the political microcosm that was 
the fragmented world of Renaissance Italy. As an authoritative text on 
this phenomenon puts it: "the immediate result of the absence of severe 
outside pressures [during the late fifteenth century] was to set the states of 
Italy free for their competitive struggle with one another, and so to inten- 
sify their awareness of the structure and tensions of their own peninsular 
system." These pressures, the author continues, "produced the new style 
of diplomacy. Primarily it developed as one functional adaptation of the 
new type of self-conscious, uninhibited, power-seeking competitive or- 
ganism." In this cauldron, a more secularized and institutionalized diplo- 
macy emerged, soon to be adopted by the great European states (Spain, 
France, and England) to Italy's north and west. Furthermore, Venice was 
a principal formulator of this new diplomacy and a key actor in this new 
game, for "above the welfare of Italy or Christendom, above any con- 
siderations of religion or morality, the rulers of Venice preferred . . . the 
self-preservation and aggrandizement of their own republic."'^ 

The Ottoman empire materializes as little more than a shadowy back- 
drop in this and most other studies of Renaissance diplomacy. Invari- 
ably, the key developments are considered to have occurred as a result 
of the relations of Italian states with each other and with trans-Alpine 
European kingdoms. Nevertheless, Venice certainly did experience "se- 
vere outside pressures" in exactly this period from the battering the Ot- 
tomans inflicted upon its empire and its navy. The Pope also experienced 
enough disquietude for him to pack his bags when in 1480 an Ottoman 
army disembarked at Otranto and prepared to march on Rome. Indeed, 
there is little doubt that the Ottoman advance pressured Venice and other 

'^ See Eldem, Goffman, and Masters, Ottoman city, pp. 207-13. 
'^ Mattingly, Renaissance Diplomacy, pp. 61 and 95. 

186 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

Italian states into a dramatic modification of their positions in the eastern 
Mediterranean world. 

Contrary to Mattingly's claims, not only were Italian experiences in 
the Ottoman east critical in the construction of a new diplomacy, but 
resident envoys in Istanbul helped unmask (or at least temper) myths 
about the impenetrable Orient and the "terrible Turk," formed during 
centuries of enmity and warfare. In their place were assembled concrete 
and realistic details about Ottoman society. In short, despite the lack of 
interest of Ottoman officials in establishing their own diplomatic missions 
in other European capitals (none were organized before the eighteenth 
century, even though the terms of the capitulations gave them the recip- 
rocal right to do so), the requirement that Italian states understand the 
Ottoman system together with the ability of that society to accommodate 
Christian settlements and missions determined that from the very be- 
ginning the empire would lie at the heart of the new diplomacy. Indeed, 
the formulating of some of the most essential elements of the modern 
world's diplomatic system - permanent missions, extraterritoriality, and 
reciprocity - drew upon the experiences of the directors of Florentine, 
Genoese, and Venetian settlements in the Ottoman domain. 

From the very beginning the Italians felt it essential to protect their mer- 
chants in this most foreign place, especially from the monstrous calamities 
of enslavement and apostasy. They sought to do so in part by appointing 
permanent representatives (known variously as consuls, eminis, or baili) 
whose job was not only to shield the city-states' subjects from the perils of 
life in a foreign and perhaps hostile place, but also to fathom and describe 
in frequent letters and, upon their return to the Republic, in relazioni 
(recitations upon the empire that the representatives presented to the 
Venetian Senate) happenings in the pivotal and menacing Ottoman polity. 

These envoys functioned similarly to and may have been models for 
the diplomats that Italians soon thereafter began posting in each other's 
capitals. The principal difference perhaps was that whereas the earliest 
resident ambassadors within the Italian peninsula simply confirmed and 
maintained alliances, the Ottoman appointees also endeavored to collect 
information about and predict the actions of a foreign and dangerous 
nemesis. The latter is a rather closer antecedent than is the Italian case, 
it seems clear, to Catholic Spaniard diplomats in Protestant England 
during the late sixteenth century, or to democratic American diplomats 
in the communist Soviet Union during the late twentieth century. In 
each case one of the emissary's principal tasks was to learn as much 
about the enemy as possible in order to predict, contain, and counter its 
policies and actions. 

Just as reminiscent of modern diplomacy as the long-term residency 
of envoys in Ottoman lands was their acquisition of a form of communal 

Commerce and diasporas 187 

governance that displayed many attributes of extraterritoriality. This stip- 
ulation, by which each expatriate people enjoyed the right to be judged 
according to its own codes, aimed to shield aliens from the supposedly 
cruel and certainly bewildering system of Ottoman-Islamic justice. It was 
an idea that was utterly foreign to most of Europe, locked as it was in the 
more and more fictitious concept of a universal Christian body politic. 
The Ottomans of course knew and used it as an extension of the system 
by which they administered their non-Muslim subjects. 

The issue of freedom of worship lay at the core of extraterritoriality. In 
the century or so after the Protestant Reformation (1517) virtually all of 
western Europe adopted cuius regio eius religio - the idea that the ruler's 
religion should be the people's religion. In this climate, the display of 
heretical worship that most envoys demanded and most states proscribed 
paralyzed diplomatic relations between Catholic and Protestant states. 
Only in the seventeenth century did the concept of extraterritoriality re- 
solve this dilemma. For the Ottomans, though, there never was such an 
issue. From the very beginning, each legate had a church or a chapel 
where he and his staff could worship freely and each ambassador and 
consul had legal jurisdiction over his "nation." No other European state 
employed such a sweeping extraterritoriality until long after the religious 
wars of the sixteenth century had helped shatter the idea of universal law. 
Thereafter the invention became and has remained an axiom of diplo- 
macy in western Europe. 

Even reciprocity - the idea that governments exchanged ambassadors - 
had some antecedents in the Ottoman world, even if not in the diplomatic 
sphere. The Ottomans insisted upon entering into each capitulation re- 
ciprocal rights for their merchants, with the result that European states 
had to allow settlements of Ottoman subject merchants (although per- 
haps because of cultural and societal impediments rarely Muslim ones) 
in Venice, Genoa, London, Amsterdam, and other principal European 

Such constructs yielded the implantation of western European organs 
into the Ottoman body politic and served as archetypes for the develop- 
ment of a new diplomacy in the rest of Europe. They derived from and 
undoubtedly were made possible by the Ottoman manner of structuring 
society. Having chosen to allow Christian and Jewish subjects to live 
according to their own laws and traditions, it was not a great step for 
the state to grant similar rights to foreign visitors. Indeed, the Ottomans 
gave the same name - ahdname - to the agreements that made each 
arrangement viable. 

In the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries Florence, Genoa, and 
Venice vied for control of Ottoman markets and goods. After about 1570 
France, England, the Netherlands, and other northern Europeans joined 

The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

27 Each year, the sultan and all Ottoman grandees gathered in an 
imperial mosque to rejoice in the birth of Muhammed. This print depicts 
such a gathering at the Sultan Ahmed (Blue) mosque during Mahmud 
II's sultanate (1808-39). D'Ohsson, Tableau general de l' Empire othom an, 
vol. I, after p. 256. 

and eventually displaced these Latin kingdoms. They shared the com- 
mercial terrain with Ottoman subject communities, who benefited as 
much as did foreigners from the proto-laissez-faire approach that pos- 
itive Ottoman attitudes toward both religious diversity and commerce 
engendered. Venetians, Florentines, and others delivered to Italy some 
of the arrangements that permitted such diverse communities to work 
and live together and adapted them in their relations first with other Ital- 
ian city-states and later also with the emerging nation states of western 

Kubad ransomed 

The greatest troubles I have had from [the Turks] have been caused by 
the men of Senj, who pass in their barks beneath Morlacchia toward 
Obrovac, come ashore, and do great damage to the Turks, who say 
that Your Serenity is responsible for guarding them from the sea, and 
demand that we give them recompense. And so I have chased the 
Senjani and the said uskoks as much as I have been able.' 

It was not until almost two years after Lepanto that Kubad finally was home- 
ward bound toward his beloved metropolis. The war between the Catholic holy 
league and the Ottoman Empire had sputtered along for over a year after 
the conquest of Cyprus and the battle off Lepanto. During that time, Kubad 
remained in Venice, first as prisoner and then as negotiator. The Ottoman cap- 
tive received many visits from Grimani in the weeks after Lepanto. At first, it 
was clear, the venerable Venetian nobleman was dropping by merely to gloat. 
Gradually, however, the tone of his conversation changed, as he discussed with 
unease the contrast between a becalmed Venetian arsenal and one in Istanbul 
that reportedly hummed with unparalleled bustle. In early April, 1572, an edgy 
Grimani advised Kubad of the rumored launch at the arsenal in the Golden 
Horn of a fleet of some 200 refurbished and newly built galliots, galleys, and 
other vessels. 

News from the wider world soon confirmed Grimani's fears that Lepanto 
would prove a sterile victory. Kubad noticed that the euphoric celebrations in 
Venice and elsewhere that followed Lepanto had slowly subsided, and heard from 
his Jewish compatriots that Latin optimism had gradually seeped away into 
despair as the grand alliance of Catholic powers grew distracted by the renewed 
threat from England, France, and a revolt in the Spanish Netherlands, and 
as the Ottoman navy, seemingly stronger than ever, re-formed itself and again 
prowled the Adriatic and even pushed into western Mediterranean seas. He also 

' Antonio da Mula, Rector of Zadar, Report to the Venetian Senate, c. 1543; as quoted in 

Bracewell, Uskoks of Senj, pp. 201-2. 
^ On Christian-Ottoman relations and especially warfare in this period, see Kenneth M. 

Setton, Venice, Austria, and the Turks in the seventeenth century (Philadelphia, 1991), 

pp. 1-39. 


190 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

was made aware of the rising complaints of Venetian merchants and mariners 
against their state's and navy's increasingly futile efforts to safeguard their 
shipping from the predations of rival traders and pirates, Christian even more 
than Muslim. It seemed clear to Kubad that the exertions of the war had not 
only utterly exhausted the Venetian fleet and driven the state toward financial 
catastrophe, but also provided an occasion for its European rivals to displace its 
trading empire. The commercial galleys of old rivals such as Ragusa and Genoa 
began anchoring in Ottoman ports; meanwhile new competitors such as France 
were making the most of modern and rugged sailing ships to push eastward out 
of Marseilles, and even from the Atlantic seaboard, to establish a diplomatic 
presence in Istanbul, and to negotiate such favorable commercial agreements 
with the sultan 's government that the ships of other states — including even 
Venice itself— had begun to trade under the French flag. The Senate desperately 
wanted peace in order to focus on these perils that, as the Ottoman emissary 
mockingly reminded Grimani, came not from Islam but from fellow Christian 
states. The Venetians again turned to Kubad for advice about how to put an 
end to their debilitating conflict. 

The envoy, who knew that the grand vizier Sokollu Mehmed and others 
had opposed the invasion of Cyprus precisely from fear of a unified Catholic 
world, urged the Venetians that their best course would be to break their alliance 
with the Habsburgs and the papacy. He argued that the Sublime Porte would 
welcome such a separate approach, and grant peace on reasonable terms. This 
advice merely confirmed what Venice's shortages of grain and other foods and 
reduced trade and industry already urged, and in early 1573 a delegation 
with plenipotentiary powers set out for Istanbul. Simultaneously, the doge also 
granted Kubad permission to leave. 

In May 1573, Kubad, in a rush to get home, did not wait for a mili- 
tary fleet or set out on the long trek overland. Instead he boarded a Venetian 
merchant-galley "tramping" down the Adriatic — intending to stop over for 
trade at Spalato, Corfu, and Modon — en route for Istanbul. The ship never 
made it to its first port-of-call. Just as it rounded Pola point, less than one day 
out from Venice, a swarm of some forty small boats suddenly darted in from the 
east and quickly infested the massive and clumsy galley. The courier knew that 
these were Uskoks, a community of destitute yet determined privateers — many 
of whom were fugitives from Ottoman Bosnia and Serbia — entrenched in the 
northern Dalmatian seaside town of Senj, sanctioned by the Habsburg state, 
and dedicated to struggle against Islam. Despite their sworn opposition to the 
Ottomans, it was Venetian shipping that most suffered from their attacks, which 
invariably occurred in the Adriatic "sea of Venice." Uskok zeal excused strikes 

^ On which see especially Alberto Tenenti, Piracy and the decline of Venice, 1580-1615, trans. 
Janet Pullan and Brian PuUan (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1967). 
Bracewell, Uskoks of Senj, passim. 

Kubad ransomed 191 

against Venetian vessels, which almost invariably carried Muslim and Jewish 
traders and their merchandise and thus, the corsairs' line of reasoning went, 
collaborated with the great Ottoman adversary. 

Kubad appreciated that the danger was particularly his. Unlike the Venetian 
merchants and mariners, and Dalmatian oarsmen, who as Christians could 
plead for their lives, as a Muslim and an Ottoman official the Uskoks might 
summarily put him to death. With fervor did he thus aid his fellow sailors 
and passengers feverishly struggling to fend off a boarding of their ship: to no 
avail. Neither the self-indulgent merchants nor the malnourished seamen could 
match the sinewy and dogged mountain folk, whose myriad boats nimbly swirled 
around the lumbering Venetian vessel. With terrible speed, several craft had been 
attached to the great hull and dozens of Uskoks had swarmed the deck. The 
futile resistance ended, the galley was taken, and its passengers and crew stood 
huddled miserably in the bow. 

Among these captives was Kubad, whose religion put him in particular dan- 
ger, but whose rank also made him particularly valuable. He knew that these 
brutal pirates would do one of three things with him. They might unceremo- 
niously execute him as a dangerous adversary. Although this option seemed 
logical, in fact it was unlikely as long as the pursuivant could conceal his mis- 
sion to help negotiate a separate Ottoman— Venetian peace. The Uskoks were a 
desolate and destitute as well as a fanatic people who could ill afford to cut his 
throat and thereby lose the income of either selling him to the Genoese or the 
papal states as a galley slave or holding him for ransom. It also seemed unlikely 
that Kubad would be sold into bondage. The demand for galley slaves was much 
depressed in the relatively quiet aftermath of Lepanto, and the bandits could 
expect no more than ten or fifteen ducats for a middle-aged and rather flaccid 
statesman. As a high Ottoman official, however, he could fetch perhaps 300 
ducats in ransom. Indeed, Kubad himself could guarantee such a payment out 
of his own pocket. Such was the upshot. Within a week, the pursuivant had 
arranged with the Ottoman military governor of the sancak of Bihac for the 
immediate dispatch of a cavalry troop hauling 300 ducats to meet him near 
the town of Slunj on the Ottoman— Croatian frontier. Here the exchange took 
place, and Kubad again was on his way to Istanbul. 

Kubad had had to swallow his impatience to return to the imperial capital 
and travel home overland. His journey across Bosnia, down the Danube River, 
and then south from Plevna to Edirne did not get him to the Ottoman capital 
until late August. Much to his vexation at having been left out of the talks, the 
Venetians already had negotiated a separate accord; much to his relief, though, 
the great city of Istanbul remained haughtily and familiarly Ottoman. The 
sultan 's servant settled once again into his routine. 

A changing station in Europe 

For your Greek subjects of the island of Candia, and the other 
islands of the Levant, there is no doubt but there is some greater 
regard to be had of them, first, because that the Greek faith is never 
to be trusted; and perhaps they would not much stick at submitting 
to the Turk, having the example of all the rest of their nation before 
their eyes: these therefore must be watch'd with more attention, 
lest, like wild beasts, as they are, they should find an occasion to use 
their teeth and claws. The surest way is to keep good garrisons 
to awe them, and not use them to arms or musters, in hopes of 
being assisted by them in an extremity: for they will always shew 
ill inclinations proportionably to the strength they shall be 
masters of.' 

Most historians have portrayed a post-Suleymanic Ottoman world in de- 
cline. Their evidence for such a downturn is principally military. It is often 
argued that the Ottoman navy never fully recovered either its power or its 
prestige after the debacle of Lepanto (1571), and that the Ottoman army 
never rediscovered its fortitude and fierceness after the long wars against 
the Habsburg and Safavid empires that brought the sixteenth century to 
a close and engendered the stalemating Peace of Zsitva-torok (1606). 
Consequently, the argument goes, concession, retreat, and retrench- 
ment characterized Ottoman history during the seventeenth through the 
nineteenth centuries. The reality, of course, was much more compli- 
cated than this representation suggests. Particularly in the seventeenth 
century, many regions and sectors of the empire flourished economically; 
innovation and bureaucratization engendered an unprecedented polit- 
ical stability; and even militarily, the Ottomans enjoyed some notable 

' Robert Pashley, Travels in Crete, 2 vols., 1837 (reprint, Athens, 1989); as quoted in 
Molly Greene, A shared world: Christians and Muslims in the early modern Mediterranean 
(Princeton, 2000), p. 44. 


A changing station in Europe 193 

International trade in the changing fabric 
of Ottoman society 

A positive side of life in the seventeenth-century Ottoman Empire is 
seen most clearly in the commercial sector. While it is true that Ottoman 
merchants lost some ground to Dutch, English, French, and Venetian 
competitors in trade between the Ottoman and western European worlds 
as a result of a changing relationship between the Ottoman and other 
European states, many of these same merchants also profited from 
the consequent restructuring of commerce. The gradual loosening of 
Istanbul's control over foreign communities resident in the major cities of 
the empire, for example, increased opportunities for subject as well as for- 
eign merchants to reorganize and streamline domestic trading networks, 
and for Ottoman agriculturists to diversify and market their produce. 

A variance between the Ottoman and western European conceptions 
of the role of international trade yielded this changing relationship. As 
we have seen, after the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul, both Genoa and 
Venice had negotiated political and commercial agreements (ahdnames or 
capitulations) with the Ottoman state. These documents granted Italian 
merchants certain rights of domicile and commerce in Istanbul and later 
in other port cities of the Ottoman Mediterranean world in return for tar- 
iffs against commodities traded. As a result of Franco-Ottoman political 
agreements during their wars against the Habsburg Emperor Charles V, 
the governments of Francis I and Siileyman negotiated (but never signed) 
similar agreements. Then, in the last decades of the century, the Ottoman 
state granted the principal Atlantic seaboard nations - France (1569), 
England (1581), and the Netherlands (1600) — their own capitulatory 

These documents differed little from the ones negotiated over a century 
earlier with the Genoese, Venetians, and Tuscans. Nevertheless, as the 
Italians themselves had discovered through repeated invasion, beginning 
with the French in 1494, these northern states were something new. 
Certainly they represented far larger societies than did either Genoa or 
Venice. Moreover, they were better organized, more purposeful, could 
draw upon more resources, and possessed considerable technological 
advantages over their Italian rivals. In other words, the relative power 
of these states was great, and the Ottomans did little in their treaties to 
acknowledge or compensate for this shift. 

Furthermore, even within the Mediterranean world the balance of 
power had shifted. When the Genoese and Venetian states had negoti- 
ated their agreements in the mid fifteenth century, the Ottoman navy had 

194 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

been young and innovative. In subsequent years, it over and over again 
had defeated the combined forces of the Catholic-Mediterranean world, a 
success which helped the Ottoman government to define the terms of the 
Latin presence in its domains. The world after Lepanto (1571) was dif- 
ferent. Ottoman naval power did not collapse. Indeed, on paper its navy 
became even stronger. Nevertheless, the terms of encounter had changed. 
There was never to be another sea battle of the magnitude of Lepanto, 
for neither the Ottomans nor any league of Catholic states again proved 
willing to gamble an armada upon a single engagement. Naval warfare 
in the late sixteenth century, rather, consisted of small sorties, feigning 
actions, and strategic occupations. With no dominant naval force, a type 
of vacuum emerged in the eastern Mediterranean seas. 

The English, the Dutch, and the French used maritime technology 
developed in the heavy seas of the Atlantic and the organizational in- 
novations of their centralizing states to step into this commercial void.^ 
They introduced into the Mediterranean world a new type of vessel, the 
bertone, which, although smaller than the galleys used by the navies of 
this inland sea, was also quicker and more maneuverable in open waters, 
could sail in almost any weather, and demanded a relatively small crew. 
Although vulnerable in ports and close to shores, where winds, tides, 
and rocky coasts could give oar-propelled vessels an advantage, on the 
open seas the bertoni could be overpowering and provided their captains 
with choices. The speed and maneuverability of the bertone meant that, 
when confronted with a galley, the decision of whether to flee, chase, or 
fight was usually in its captain's hands. In a sea that in the aftermath of 
Lepanto swarmed with pirates and corsairs - many of them also sailing 
the new vessels - these same advantages pertained also to commerce and 

These new seafaring states also enjoyed administrative advantages. 
Peculiarly, perhaps, it was neither the English nor the Dutch states that 
signed capitulatory agreements with the Ottomans. Rather, enterprising 
individuals who had probed the opportunities of international trade es- 
tablished private companies - the English and the Dutch Levant Com- 
panies. These exclusive concerns secured monopolies over commerce 
between England or the Netherlands and the Levant by negotiating priv- 
ileges first with their own governments and then with the Ottomans. 

To take the English case: beginning in the 1520s, a trickle of enterpris- 
ing young traders had proven the viability of Anglo-Ottoman commer- 
cial relations. This potential was fulfilled in the 1570s and 1 580s because 
of the converging focus of several rich London merchants and Queen 

Tenenti, Piracy and the decline of Venice^ passim. 

A changing station in Europe 195 

Elizabeth's government. In 1575, the Ottoman government granted 
Edward Osborne and Richard Staper permission to trade in its domains, 
and three years later William Harborne settled in Istanbul as their en- 
voy. In 1581, the Queen's government authorized Osborne, Staper, and 
ten other London merchants to establish the joint-stock Levant Com- 
pany, the right to appoint representatives in Ottoman port cities, and a 
monopoly over English-Ottoman commerce. 

This Company enjoyed several advantages over its Italian and Ottoman 
rivals. First, its charter shielded it from state interference. For example, 
whereas the Venetian government's principal consideration in its appoint- 
ment of its bailo and consuls was political and Ottoman-subject mer- 
chants were under the vigilant tax-collecting eye of Ottoman authorities, 
the English Levant Company chose Harborne and subsequent envoys and 
consuls chiefly on the basis of commercial acumen; in other words, in the 
English case merchants rather than politicians or diplomats supervised 
commerce. Second, whereas French, Venetian, or Ottoman traders had 
to compete with innumerable compatriot as well as foreign merchants, 
English trade was restricted to factors of members of the Company. 
Finally, whereas other traders risked personal fortune with every venture, 
the shared-risk arrangement of the English Company diffused exposure 
to loss and allowed London merchants to hazard chancy but potentially 
lucrative enterprises at a fraction of the personal risk. With only slight dif- 
ferences (for example, the English consul was salaried whereas the Dutch 
one depended on surcharges on goods), the Dutch Levant Company re- 
sembled the English one. 

The Ottomans were willing to agree to these potentially dangerous in- 
cursions in part because their attitudes toward commerce differed quite 
dramatically from western Europe's. In the late sixteenth and seventeenth 
centuries, the empire's statesmen considered their agreements with the 
rising western powers as more political than economic. On the one hand, 
merchants in Amsterdam or London sought the best possible commercial 
and communal terms. Consequently, they sought most-favored-nation 
status, demanded extraterritorial rights, tried to force "foreigner" mer- 
chants to trade under their flags, and worked to acquire the lowest possible 
tariffs, all in the name of increasing the Dutch or English share in interna- 
tional commerce. On the other hand, the Ottoman government thought 
more in terms of its treasury, its military needs, and its subjects' access 
to goods and services. Thus did it seek revenue from foreign merchants 
and strive to deny them access to commodities deemed strategically or 
communally vital. In other words, the Ottomans responded positively to 
English overtures because they wanted access to English silver, tin, gun- 
powder, and ships, and not because they wanted to sell commodities. 

196 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

Furthermore, the Sublime Porte continued to justify and couch 
the ahdnames in Islamic terms. Thus, the harbi, foreign, non-Muslim 
"enemy," upon taking up residency in Ottoman domains, received an 
aman, or safe conduct, and became a muste'min, or foreign inhabitant. 
Theoretically at least, such residency lasted only so long - between one 
and ten years depending upon the school of Islamic law - before such 
visitors became zimmis and thus subject to the rights and impositions of 
the non-Muslim Ottoman subject. In other words, the Islamic worldview 
envisioned Dutch, English, and French traders, no less than Genoese 
and Venetian ones, as taifes,^ and thus potential Ottoman subjects. It 
is clear, then, that a rupture could occur between the growing sense of 
extraterritoriality (which, as we have seen, ironically owed much to Latin- 
Ottoman relations) that accompanied the emergence of a more modern 
state in the West and an Ottoman Empire that remained ideologically 
wedded to a godly view of the state and its relationships with society and 
other principalities. 

Commerce in the Ottoman borderlands 

Whereas the seventeenth-century Ottoman government seemed not to 
pay much heed to this growing gap between the normative and the his- 
torically concrete, many of its officials took it seriously indeed. As the 
settlements of the Dutch, English, and French communities progressed 
into their second and third decades, differing interpretations of the rights 
and obligations of alien sojourners led to frequent clashes between offi- 
cials and foreigners in Istanbul and elsewhere. The roots of the tension 
lay in the fact that these alien traders, of whom many spent decades in 
Ottoman port cities, established their own enclaves (often referred to as 
"nations" or "factories") and expected indefinitely to retain capitulatory 
advantage over their Ottoman rivals. Many Ottoman officials, operating 
within an Islamic worldview, saw things differently, and repeatedly sought 
to convert such habitues into Ottoman subjects. 

They attempted to do so in several ways. The capitulatory agreements 
covered not only aliens themselves, but also their dependents — janissary 
guards, doormen, and translators. In the early seventeenth century, 
Ottoman administrators responsible for the community of foreigners at 
Galata persistently ventured to collect the head tax {cizye) from them 
as if they were unprotected Ottoman subjects. Also in Galata at about 
the same time, janissary watchmen, candle makers, and customs collec- 
tors tried to collect taxes on meat and suet bought and butchered for 

^ On which, see chapter 6 above. 

A changing station in Europe 197 

the Venetian community as if it were a non-Muslim subject community. 
Finally, throughout at least the first half of the seventeenth century, 
these same officials repeatedly attempted to categorize as non-Muslim 
subjects (zimmis) Venetian and French merchants who leased shops in 
the bazaars of Istanbul.* Such behavior certainly threatened the self-rule 
of these communities of foreigners. Nevertheless, the Ottoman officials 
were behaving in neither venal nor deviant ways. They intended neither 
to extort, nor to exclude, nor to convert as their counterparts might have 
aimed to do in the rest of Europe. Rather, their methods were designed 
to integrate these long-term sojourners politically in accordance with 
Islamic law without subverting either religious or civil autonomy. Most 
foreigners, of course, insisted upon the legal and cultural security that 
their political autonomy afforded, and strove to preserve and even aug- 
ment collective self-rule. They did so through a variety of means and with 
uneven results. 

By the early seventeenth century, the principal trading nations of 
England, France, the Netherlands, and Venice had established rather in- 
tricate commercial and administrative networks that stretched across the 
Ottoman Empire and beyond. Although each of these webs had different 
strengths, weaknesses, and structures,^ they also shared certain charac- 
teristics. At the head of each stood representatives (ambassadors, envoys, 
or baili) in Istanbul, whose responsibilities included not only represent- 
ing their home governments and/or companies, but also their compatriots 
resident in the Ottoman Empire. Each government or company also ap- 
pointed consuls who led and administered the nations or factories settled 
in particular Ottoman cities. Finally, each competed to ensure the best 
commercial terms for their communities and the most autonomy from 
the Ottoman government. 

There also were important differences between these states' adminis- 
trations of their communities in the Levantine world. Venice, for example, 
had long experience in the Levant and had developed a highly centralized 
administration. Its vast, if much eroded, colonial system in the Aegean 
Sea and its many wars with the Ottomans meant that it had to be as much 
concerned with diplomacy and politics as with trade. Consequently, the 
Venetian Senate made it state policy to appoint judicious and capable bai- 
los, who could maneuver through and report astutely upon the Ottoman 
world, and to exercise strict control over both the bailo and his consuls by 
making them state officials and providing them with salaries and staffs. 

* See Bagbakanlik Osmanli Arsivi, Ecnebi Defteri 13/1, p. 28, no. 6; p. 29, no. 4; and p. 35, 

no. 5; and Ecnebi Defteri 26, p. 144, no. 3, and p. 54, no. 3. 
^ On which see Neils Steensgaard, "Consuls and Nations in the Levant from 1570 to 

1650," Scandinavian Economic History Reviezu 15(1967): 13—55. 

198 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

Western European states were much less organized. Paris, for example, 
applied almost no control over its representatives, who often bought their 
positions as tax farmers and whom the merchants of Marseilles loosely 
directed. In the early seventeenth century, the French ambassadors were 
notoriously venal, incompetent, and chronically in debt. The heads of 
the Dutch and English communities were only slightly more able to ad- 
minister competently than were the French. 

This relatively decentralized administration among Atlantic seaboard 
states helped produce a frontier-like spirit within many early seventeenth- 
century Levantine trading nations, which comprised mostly impoverished 
and adventurous young men seeking to make their fortunes, many of 
whom found the freedom and novelty of their new environments pro- 
foundly exhilarating. Robert Bargrave may serve as an example. In 1647 
he sailed from England with Sir Thomas Bendysh, the newly appointed 
ambassador to Istanbul. His diary repeatedly suggests how thoroughly 
the Ottoman world mesmerized this young merchant, as evidenced by 
his description of an Ottoman estate near the shore of the Bosphorus 

[It] was situat on the side of a litle Hill, over a pleasant narrow Dale, which 
was embrac'd by a Rivolett in two Branches, and fenc'd with woods almost round 
it: such as afforded a various and a pleasant chace of wild Boars, of wolves, of 
Jackalls, and of wild Deere: so that we seldome wanted Venison of sundry sorts, 
besides Phasant, Partridge, and wild=foule in cheap Plenty.' 

The peoples and opportunities even more than the foods of that milieu 
inspired Bargrave and others like him. To a young Englishman that world 
must have seemed brilliantly colored and richly exciting. In his homeland, 
convention and expectations (probably frustrated) hemmed him in. He 
likely socialized and toiled within a restricted and rather uniform circle, he 
consumed a little-changing English fare day in and out, and his prospects 
for marriage were limited and perhaps early determined. Suddenly, he was 
the outsider, compelled to eat unfamiliar foods, called upon to fraternize 
with an unimaginably diverse people, and counted on to invent new ways 
to make money. In short, he was largely freed from the constraints of an 
unbending and oppressive society and economic order. Although some 
probably never escaped the loneliness and homesickness that typically 
accompany sojourns overseas, others must have found their positions 

Robert Bargrave, A relation of sundry voyages and journeys made he mee, fo. llr. Preserved 
in the Bodleian Library as Rawlinson, MSS.799. Now published as Michael G. Brennan 
(ed.). The travel diary of Robert Bargrave (London, 1999). 

A changing station in Europe 199 

The foreign residents' freedom was far from absolute, however. The 
London merchant who had appointed him factor, his consul, and his am- 
bassador exercised some control over his activities. Even more than their 
own states, companies, officials, and employers, however, it was Ottoman 
authorities and Ottoman society that circumscribed the independence of 
these young men. Had they journeyed to the Americas, as did many of 
their compatriots, they would have been influenced by their new envi- 
ronment and the peoples who already inhabited it. Nevertheless, such 
Europeans exercised a good deal of control over this new world and by 
the end of the seventeenth century, the English, French, and Spanish were 
well on their way toward colonizing it, to creating the neo-Europe that 
much of the Americas was to become.^ In Ottoman domains, however, 
the rules of engagement were different. In this land, it was the western 
Europeans who had to accommodate themselves to a strong and self- 
confident state and society. In the sixteenth century, they had done so 
(with mixed results to be sure) by negotiating rights of trade and settle- 
ment with the central authorities in Istanbul. 

In the seventeenth century, the situation became more complicated. 
Although the Ottoman government remained confident, we have seen 
that it also had experienced a series of military, monetary, administra- 
tive, and social affronts. The accumulated pressures of defeats by the 
Habsburgs and the Safavids, unchecked infiation, the rising influence 
of provincial authorities, and chronic rebellions had subtly diminished 
the capacity of the central authorities to govern effectively. As a result, 
European sojourners sometimes found themselves in environments in 
which neither authority nor power were clearly defined. It often was not 
enough simply to rely upon the central Ottoman government to redress 
grievances. The reemergence of past elites in various parts of the empire, 
the emergence of new elites elsewhere, and the establishment of new cities 
along the Mediterranean coasts greatly increased the opportunities and 
the dangers of trade and settlement in the Ottoman Empire. 

Ottoman cities, new and old 

Western European states established presences in many seventeenth- 
century Ottoman cities, including, at various times, Edirne, Salonika, 
Bursa, Alexandretta, Syrian Tripoli, Ankara, Antalya, Chios, Cairo, and 
Alexandria. Throughout the century, however, the three most important 

^ On the process of mutual "engendering" between the new world and the old, see es- 
pecially J. G. A. Pocock, "British history: a plea for a new subject," Journal of Modern 
History 4(1975): 601-24. On the English experience in the Americas and the Mediter- 
ranean compared, see Matar, Turks, Moors, and Englishmen, pp. 83—107. 

200 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

28 Here is a sixteenth-century Italian portrayal of the noble Ottoman 
relaxing at home. There are no chairs or other furnishings; instead the 
artist represents the figure's wealth in his rich robes and the shadowy 
servant entering with a tray of food. Vecellio, Habiti antichi, f. 381 v. 

A changing station in Europe 20 1 

Ottoman cities for Mediterranean commerce were Istanbul, Izmir, and 
Aleppo, and it was at these sites that trading nations struggled to maintain 
communal self-rule and vied for commercial predominance. These cities 
had in common Dutch, English, French, and Venetian settlements, for- 
eign districts, and foreign administrators. Nevertheless, the various lines 
of authority and peculiar social structures frustrated attempts to develop 
a template for conduct or adjustment. 

One consequence of the several transformations that characterized the 
early seventeenth-century Ottoman world was the emergence of semi- 
independent notables (ayan or derebeys) in outlying regions of the empire. 
In some cases, these powerful men were simply representatives of eminent 
local elites, who used the opportunity of a destabilized and distracted 
central government to reassert themselves and their families, clans, or 
ethnic groups. In other cases, they were new elites, who took advantage 
of political and economic changes to insert themselves into emerging 
commercial networks or the tangled edifice of administration. Then there 
were the rebels, who gathered around themselves disgruntled irregular 
soldiers and carved out semi-autonomous fiefdoms in provincial towns 
and countrysides. 

Such new elites established themselves in various permutations and af- 
fected governance in a variety of ways. In the caravan city of Aleppo, for 
example, the Canpulatoglu, a Kurdish clan, in the early seventeenth cen- 
tury simultaneously disrupted the caravan trade and inserted themselves 
into the top ranks of Ottoman administration (Hiiseyin Canpulatoglu in 
1603 became the first local to obtain the governorship of the province of 
Aleppo). In the neighborhood of the port town of Izmir, it was first out- 
laws such as Cennetoglu and later notable families such as the Araboglus 
and the Karaosmanoglus who inserted themselves locally and muddied 
the lines of Ottoman power and authority. Even in Istanbul itself, power- 
ful officials occasionally directly challenged the government's authority. 
In 1651, for example, it seems that a certain Ip§ir Pasha led an army to 
the outskirts of the city before being bought off with the grand vizierate 
in the following year.^ 

Foreign merchants and diplomats had to contend with such men, and 
sometimes did so effectively. In 1625, for example, Nicolini Orlando, 
the consul of the Netherlands in Izmir, sent tribute to Cennetoglu, in 
return for which the outlaw granted Dutch merchants protection as they 
traded in those regions under his control.' In 1613, the Venetian consul 
in Aleppo protested the inability of Ottoman authorities to rein in the 

Evliya (^elebi. Intimate life of an Ottoman statesman^ pp. 64—66. 
' Basbakanlik Osmanli Arsivi, Maliyeden Miidewer 6004, p. 124. 



5 :n 


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B "ra 



























1 • 























A changing station in Europe 203 

power of an Armenian, Bedik, who had assumed control of the collection 
of customs and felt confident enough to declare before the kadi: "I am the 
collector of customs. No one will imprison me."^" Finally, in Istanbul in 
1650, Henry Hyde agreed to pay an unnamed Ottoman pasha (perhaps 
Melek Ahmed himself), a "Rebell," a hefty sum in return for confirming 
his appointment as ambassador from England.'' 

Each of these men — Cennetoglu, Bedik, and the unnamed pasha - 
operated in the gray areas at the borders of Ottoman law and society, if 
in very different ways. Even though in the long run none succeeded in 
challenging the Ottoman state, each did disrupt the terms of the capitu- 
latory agreements negotiated between their government and the Dutch, 
English, and Venetians. Each also tempted foreign diplomats and traders, 
frustrated by the inability of the Ottoman government to protect them, to 
negotiate with such illegitimate authorities, thereby not only encourag- 
ing, but even contributing to their insubordination. The Dutch consul 
in Izmir, for example, approached Cennetoglu only after issuing a num- 
ber of futile protests to Istanbul that the brigand's army had disrupted 
Dutch trade in the woolens, leathers, and dried fruits of western Anatolia. 
Orlando's payments amounted to protection money, and thus an implied 
recognition of extra-governmental authority.'^ In much the same way, 
the Venetians, French, and other foreign nations in Aleppo resorted to 
direct negotiations with Bedik and other customs collectors after it be- 
came clear that the Ottoman state could not (or would not) protect them 
from what they perceived as abuses. Finally, in Istanbul, Hyde turned to 
an out-of-favor but potentially influential Ottoman statesman in his at- 
tempt to reverse the decision of a sitting grand vizier to confirm a rival's 
bid for the English ambassadorship. 

As central control weakened, such confrontations and negotiations be- 
tween local authorities and foreigners occurred repeatedly in all of the 
principal Ottoman commercial cities during much of the seventeenth 
century. The extra-governmental factions that surfaced were not the 
same everywhere, however, because of the dissimilar pasts and current 
particularities of the Ottoman cities and regions in which foreigners la- 
bored. In Aleppo, for example, newly settled Dutch, English, and French 
communities endeavored to plug themselves into a long-established 
and fixed commercial network, whose existence long predated the 
Ottoman conquest of 1516. Their Venetian and local rivals had long 
experience with this lattice, and, as the Ottoman government's ability to 

'" Basbakanlik Osmanli Arsivi, Ecnebi Defteri 13/1, p. 83, no. 2. 
" Bargrave, Relation, fo. 32v. 

'^ On which, see Frederic C. Lane's classic study, "The economic consequences of orga- 
nized violence," Journal of Economic History 18(1958): 401-17. 

204 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

intervene effectively receded, the newer settlers were often outmaneu- 
vered in competition for commodities, low prices, and various commer- 
cial accommodations. 

As both the English and French factories in Aleppo became mired in 
debt to local merchants, their frustrations grew. So much so that in 1642 
the French consul and 55 merchants appealed to the kadi and Ottoman 
military commander to allow them to refinance their debts to their 
"notable" (ayan) creditors, which the Ottoman officials permitted.'^ In 
this same decade, the English merchants in Aleppo went further, not only 
petitioning the Ottoman government for succor against local leaders, 
but also appealing to their compatriots in Istanbul and Izmir to lend 
them money to pay for an imperial decree {hatt-i §erif) that they naively 
believed would force the locals to abide by the terms of the capitulations. 
A letter that Sir Thomas Bendysh, the English ambassador, wrote to 
the directors of the English Levant Company some years later describes 
how the Aleppan factory had been unwilling "to proceed unless some of 
this Factory [in Istanbul] entered the lists [to obtain a hatt-i §erif] with 
them." He then querulously declared that 

wherin coining like friends, rather than politicians, crafty factors, or such as de- 
sired to draw the stream to their own mill, a Hautesheriff (the best assurance 
granted in Turkey) was obtained by the hands of Mustapha Bassa for to take of 
their chief aggrievances and Commands went from said visir to back the same, 
as to exempt the said Factory from other inconveniences, which at first was sup- 
posed and accepted of as a piece of good service done them, when they not only 
gave us hopes of great Intrades, but of latter times wrote us, they would be faithful 
stewards, in levying and recovering those duties for us.'* 

According to Bendysh, not only had the factory of Aleppo not been 
"faithful stewards," but they had ignored their debts to the factory in 
Istanbul and kept profits for themselves. In short, the only consequence 
of this effort to utilize one Ottoman authority to quash another was a 
serious falling out between the English nations of Aleppo and Istanbul. 

The frustrating experience of French and English traders in Aleppo, 
much of which derived from having to compete with rivals who better 
understood the city's commercial dynamics, was not necessarily repeated 
in other Ottoman emporia. In seventeenth-century Izmir, for example, 
the new trading companies from northwestern Europe thrived. Whereas 
imperial weakness allowed established groups to reemerge in Aleppo, 
in Izmir it was new groups who rose to prominence, among whom 
were the foreign merchants themselves who settled in a small predom- 
inantly Turko-Muslim town of 2,000-3,000 in the first decades of the 

'' Basbakanlik Osmanli Arsivi, Ecnebi Defteri 25, p. 29, no. 1. 
1* Public Record Office, State Papers 105/174, p. 398. 

A changing station in Europe 205 

century and helped build it into one of the major trading centers in the 
Levantine world, with large Armenian, Greek Orthodox, Jewish, and 
foreign communities.^^ In other words, whereas in Aleppo, foreigners 
constituted barely tolerated aliens, in Izmir they themselves merged into 
and in many ways dominated the town's political and economic elite. The 
consuls themselves here became almost Ottoman notables. 

By mid-century, the French and English factories were even able to uti- 
lize local officials to overcome the combined authority of their own and 
the Ottoman governments. In 1646, for example, the English ambas- 
sador. Sir Sackvile Crow, secured an imperial Ottoman decree ordering 
the seizure of English goods and factors in Izmir. When his agents, ac- 
companied by a gavu§, attempted to do so, they were met by a throng who 

proclaimed in the Streets, that the Town would bee undone, the Trade lost and 
go to wrack, if this was suffered; so that before the ConsuUs door were so many of 
the scum of the Town, the Streets were packed thick of them. On the other side, 
a more unruly enemy threatoed worse things, [Nicolas Terrick] the JVlaster of the 
Golden Lyon . . . lands 40 men at Barnardistons [the English consul], and vowed 
hee would have his money or goods, or swore hee would beat down the Town.'' 

The English ambassador's agents wrote this letter in order to report on 
their inability to seize the goods of their compatriots, which explains its 
contemptuous and condemnatory tone. Nevertheless, the letter's con- 
tents make clear that the English consul and factory were able not only 
to rally many of Izmir's most prominent citizens to oppose the imperial 
seizure of their goods, but also to mobilize the manpower of English 
ships riding in the town's harbor. Whereas in Aleppo foreigners ap- 
pealed to central Ottoman authorities for relief from alleged misuse, in 
Izmir they combined with locals to subvert imperial directives. Ironi- 
cally, in each case a principal consequence of the quarrel was communal 

It was the Ottoman world more than the western or southern Euro- 
pean ones that gave rise to dissimilarities between foreign settlements in 
various Ottoman cities, and which led to different individual experiences. 
A European stranger residing in Aleppo usually restricted his social life 
to the particular khan in which he and his compatriots lived and labored. 
His social life might extend to neighboring khans, but his exposure to the 
diverse peoples and languages of his milieu remained minimal. His com- 
patriot in Istanbul also lived in a particular quarter within the city, Galata 

Gofimam, Izmir^ passim. 

Suhtilty and cruelty: or a true relation of Sr Sackvile Crow^ his design of seizing and possessing 
himselfe of all the estate of the English in Turky. With the progresse he made, and the meanes 
he used in the execution t/jereo/ (London, 1647), p. 61 (Hetherington and Zuma to Crow: 
16 June 1646). The convoluted episode is more fully discussed in Goffman, Britons, 
pp. 73-85. 

206 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

and Pera. Nevertheless, he could circulate more freely through the city, 
and the taverns and shops in Galata and the large numbers of Ottoman 
subjects who lived there meant contact with an assortment of peoples ev- 
ery time he stepped outside his home. Those who settled in Izmir could 
wander even more freely through Ottoman society. The "Street of the 
Franks" in which foreigners lived paralleled the quay and lay at the very 
heart of the town, and both geographically and politically these "Franks" 
grew to dominate the landscape of Izmir. In spite of such regional varia- 
tion, however, one constant was that the social structure of the Ottoman 
realm in the seventeenth century continued to accommodate itself to the 
Christian sojourner, European or otherwise, even more than in the past. 
Ottoman society remained richly elastic and permeable, a point nowhere 
more tellingly seen than in its willingness to find room for the outsider, 
even for priests and clergymen traveling to and proselytizing in this 
ostensibly Islamic empire. 

Proselytizing in the Ottoman world 

For example, clusters of Catholics who had dotted the largely Greek 
Orthodox religious terrain of the Balkans since before the fifteenth cen- 
tury thrived after the Ottoman conquest. The elders of the Ottoman 
dependency Dubrovnik felt a spiritual obligation not only to protect their 
persons and property against Muslim and rival Christian proselytizers and 
expropriators, but also to counsel them in the Latin canon. Dubrovnik 
found it difficult to do so directly, however, in part because of several 
papal-inspired Catholic rebellions against Ottoman rule and in part be- 
cause the "captive" Latin church was so small. So, much as the Aleppan 
English and French factories had appealed to Istanbul against local rivals, 
Dubrovnik also tried to employ the Ottoman state to protect the empire's 
Catholic subjects. 

The city-state's policy precipitated a number of clashes with both 
Muslim and Orthodox Ottomans. For example, based upon an agreement 
signed with the Ottoman state in 1399 privatizing and giving Dubrovnik 
jurisdiction over certain Catholic establishments in the Balkans, the city 
claimed custody of various churches in Belgrade and its surroundings, 
and in the 1620s worked to renovate and settle priests in several of them. 
The region's Orthodox leadership, certainly opposed to such missionary 
ventures into its community, grew alarmed at these activities. In spite of 
a recent decree from the Ottoman government that confirmed Catholic 
ownership of these churches and condemning "Bosnians, and other millets 
of misbelievers" who interfered in their affairs in Belgrade, three "Latins 
of Dubrovnik" protested first in the law courts of Belgrade, and then 

A changing station in Europe 207 

directly to the Ottoman government in Istanbul in 1 628 that people from 
these communities stood at church doors collecting alms, harassing Latin 
priests, and attempting to disrupt Catholic devotions. 

A second incident in the 1620s concerned a monk who wandered the 
Balkans ministering to various colonies of Dubrovnikan merchants and 
other Catholics. Not only did "some people from the military order and 
others interfere with him for personal gain; in addition, monks, archbish- 
ops, and bishops who are in other millets . . . meddle with the fees that he 
has long taken from the Christian community." Yet a third incident in- 
volved the several Catholic monasteries dispersed across the province. 
The monks from these monasteries possessed commands (ahdnames) 
from the sultan allowing them to roam about, advise the "reaya who are in 
the Latin millet" and gather revenue from them. Despite these guarantees, 
some monks in 1 640 petitioned against the harassments of "brigands and 
intriguers" as well as the persecution by "eastern monks, monks in other 
millets, priests, bishops, and archbishops."'^ Two years later, another pe- 
tition described the actions of a Catholic priest, who gathered together 
a retinue of men, goods, baggage, and weapons, wandered through the 
administrative provinces of Budin and Temesvar, and read "the Gospels 
to Christians who are in the Latin millet." Certain Ottoman administra- 
tors and rulers, the petition asserts, disrupted his authorized movements 
and activities. Ottoman authorities in Istanbul insisted that the Catholic 
priest should be left to wander and preach in peace. 

These incidents suggest a government more concerned with social and 
economic activities than with religious tenets, at least among its non- 
Muslim subjects, a laxness that gave seventeenth-century Ottoman so- 
ciety a particularly protean quality. It not only absorbed religious and 
other types of communities almost at will, but also was a massive and 
dynamic world that the foreign visitor had no choice but to engage on 
Ottoman terms. As we have seen, the Dutchmen, Englishmen, French- 
men, and Venetians residing in Levantine communities did just that. The 
Ottoman state continued to conceive these alien communities just as 
they did their own subject ones - that is, according to a rather elastic 
rendering of Islamic law. Under such law, foreign infidels legally be- 
came mtiste'min - communities that were granted temporary rights of 
residence in the Ottoman domains. It followed that foreigners functioned 
as a component integral to, rather than an appendage disconnected from, 
Ottoman society. 

Categorizing foreign merchants as miiste'min put them on a virtually 
equal footing with those Dubrovnik priests and monks who wandered the 

'^ Ba^bakanlik Osmanli Arjivi, Ecnebi Defteri 14/2, p. 46, no. 1; 14/1, p. 62, no. 2; and 
14/2, pp. 114-15. 

208 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

Ottoman Balkans with such impunity. Even in the seventeenth century, 
however, it did not yet mean that their factories (or "nations") could 
function according to Western judicial traditions. Instead, a struggle en- 
sued between foreign administrators, merchants, and divines who feared 
Ottoman jurisprudence and society and believed in the virtues of their 
own political, social, and religious structures, and Ottoman administra- 
tors determined to govern these interlopers just as they did other non- 
Muslims. Isaac Basire and Robert Frampton were two English clergymen 
who entered this world in the mid seventeenth century. 

The 21 -year-old Isaac Basire de Preaumont immigrated, perhaps from 
France, to Protestant England in 1 628, married seven years later, and in 
1636 received a Bachelors of Divinity at Cambridge. In 1641 Charles I 
made him a chaplain extraordinaire, and he attended upon the king dur- 
ing his hard days under siege at Oxford in 1645. In the next year, the 
parliamentarians seized this intensely royalist clergyman and imprisoned 
him briefly in Stockton Castle before driving him into exile. 

Basire wandered to Paris, where in 1 650 he met with Henrietta Maria, 
the recently executed Charles's Catholic wife, then to Italy, and flnally 
arrived in the Levant in 1651, just at the close of the English civil wars 
and as the Commonwealth interregnum was beginning in England. He 
spent altogether fifteen years in exile, mostly in the Ottoman realm. In 
Basire's seemingly aimless driftings, which left him divided from his wife 
and five children for the entire period, he carried with him a strong sense 
of his spiritual and political purpose in the world. '^ He also served as a 
spy for the royalist camp. 

Over the years, Basire wrote several long reports to the advisors of first 
Charles I and then Charles II. He described, from the comfort of an 
Aleppine khan, his sojourn and proselytizing in Venetian Zante, where he 
had produced "a vulgar Greek translation of our church's catechism."'^ 
This enterprise had led to his deportation to Ottoman Greece, where, un- 
deterred, he preached and presented to the Greek Orthodox Metropoli- 
tan of Achaia a Greek-language copy of the Anglican catechism. After a 
brief return to Italy and travels through Sicily, Basire found his way to 
Aleppo, where he chatted with the Patriarch of Antioch and left him an 
Arabic version of the catechism, and then to Jerusalem, where he had 
long discussions with both Orthodox and Latin clerics and gained en- 
trance into the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. He then passed into the 
Mesopotamian valley, where he discussed religion with Armenian bishops 

'^ Basire's personal history can be culled from W. N. Darnell (ed.). The correspondence of 
Isaac Basire, D. D., Archdeacon of Northumberland and Prebendary of Durham, in the reigns 
of Charles I. and Charles II. with a memoir of his life (London, 1831). 

'' Bodleian Library, Clarendon MS 46, fo. 73v. 

A changing station in Europe 209 

and arranged for the preparation of an Armenian translation of the 

After wintering in Aleppo in 1 652-53, Basire finally set out for Istanbul 
by land, traveling "without either servant, or Christian, or any man with 
me that could so much as speak the Frank language; yet, by the help of 
some Arabic I had picked up at Aleppo; I did perform this journey in 
the company of 20 Turks, who used me courteously."^" Most arresting 
in this account is the image of a steadfast English divine wandering freely 
through the Ottoman Balkans and Arab lands, and even pushing across 
Syria and Anatolia in the company of twenty Muslim Turks. Traveling 
with this infidel throng, to whom, alone of all those encountered, he 
dared not preach, did not at all shake his faith in the inherent superiority 
of either his Anglican creed or his English society. 

Basire's unshakable purpose was to convince the various churches of 
the East of the efficacy of Anglican worship. Even more remarkable than 
the man, however, was the realm in which he wandered. Unlike the 
Venetians, who banished Basire from the island of Zante for his prosely- 
tizing, the Ottomans placed few constraints upon him. Nor, as we have 
seen, was the government's turning of a blind eye toward Basire's ventures 
unusual. Ottoman sources describe a domain that must have seemed to 
bustle with Christian missionaries. Istanbul diligently defended foreign 
clerics from Greek and Serbian Orthodox slander and from abuse by lo- 
cal Ottoman officials. The Dubrovnikan and Venetian priests who ranged 
across the Ottoman Balkans, as well as the many Catholic monasteries 
situated there, found ready recourse in the Ottoman judicial system.^' 
The Sublime Porte also protected Capuchin priests who wandered, pros- 
elytizing, across the empire, only ostensibly tending to French facto- 
ries in Egypt, Aleppo, and elsewhere. ^^ In a curious precedent to late 
twentieth-century disputes, the Ottoman government occasionally even 
tried to frustrate the export to western Europe of artifacts, as in 1656 
when the Greek Patriarch accused "Prankish monks" of stealing statuary 
from the home of the Virgin Mary in Jerusalem and carrying it off to 
Europe. ^^ The image that springs to mind from such Ottoman sources 
is one of Protestant clergymen such as Basire invading Ottoman lands 
not to convert Muslims or Jews, but to do battle with Catholic, Greek 
Orthodox, and other divines for the souls of Ottoman Christians. The role 
of the Ottoman authorities in these latter-day Crusades was to provide 

2° Bodleian Library, Clarendon MS 46, fo. 73v. 

^' In addition to those documents cited above, see also Basbakanlik Osmanli Arjivi, Ecnebi 

Defteri 13/1, p. 1 14, no. 1; and Ecnebi Defteri 14/2, pp. 144-46, and 146. 
^^ Basbakanlik Osmanli Arsivi, Ecnebi Defteri 26, p. 38, no. 1; p. 59, no. 1. 
^' Basbakanlik Osmanli Arsivi, Ecnebi Defteri 26, p. 88, no. 1. 

210 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

ground rules, act as referees, and protect the Muslim faithful from such 

Isaac Basire was a restless evangelist who wandered the full breadth of 
the Ottoman Empire; other English clergy, however, were more settled. 
Basire's near contemporary Robert Frampton was in 1655 appointed 
chaplain to the English factory at Aleppo and remained in that city for 
twelve years. He also was an Anglican royalist, who fought for the king at 
the Battle of Hambledon Hill in 1645 and preached in London and else- 
where during the early Commonwealth years. Frampton was appointed 
chaplain in Aleppo during the heyday of Cromwell's regime with the 
charge "to keep that factory steady to the crown and church," which he 
seems to have accomplished.^^ During his period of service he helped 
convince Ottoman authorities in Alexandretta to allow the rebuilding 
of a crumbling Greek church; he persuaded the Greek Orthodox com- 
munity to allow the burial of Mr. Hext, the English assistant consul in 
Alexandretta, in the hallowed grounds of that same church; he learned 
both Arabic and Italian (the Mediterranean's lingua franca) fluently 
enough to preach and converse freely in both tongues; and he journeyed 
to Istanbul to plead successfully on the English factory's behalf against a 
tyrannical (or so he claimed) Ottoman governor.^^ 

As these events suggest, Frampton threw himself into the Ottoman 
world with alacrity, and developed a profound and useful understand- 
ing of it. He cultivated, for example, friendships with various religious 
officials, including the Orthodox Patriarch, with whom he regularly de- 
bated religious controversy, and the chief kadi in Aleppo, with whom he 
habitually exchanged wine-drinking visits.^* Although his quick fluency 
in Arabic must have helped him infiltrate Ottoman society, it was the 
Ottomans who allowed the infidel, both subject and alien, to reside in 
their domains. It was also the Ottomans who granted them free access 
to each other, and felt confident enough in their own religion, their own 
civilization, and the legitimacy of their own government to allow social 
intercourse even between Muslims and non-Muslims — at least in the 
public, masculine, sphere. 

There were limits to these activities. It was fine for the missionary to 
proselytize among fellow Christians and even Jews. The Ottomans could 
only push Islamic principles so far, however, and Muslims remained 
strictly out-of-bounds. Nevertheless, Frampton risked chipping away 
at this ideology wall. On several occasions, for example, the chaplain 

T. Simpson Evans (ed.). The Life of Robert Frampton, Bishop of Gloucester, deprived as a 

non-juror, 1689 (London, 1875), p. 20. 
^' Evans (ed.). Life of Robert Frampton, pp. 38-42 and 65-73. 
^^ Evans (ed.). Life of Robert Frampton, pp. 51-53. 

A changing station in Europe 211 

harbored young Christian orphans and vagabonds whom he feared would 
become Muslim if left in the care of the state. ^^ More perilously, he at 
least twice met converts who had come from Christendom and covertly 
persuaded them to renounce their new faith. 

The first of these was a French renegade whom he met in Egypt, "many 
miles from Christian converse, especially of any Europeans" and in the 
"good round company of Turks and others." One evening, after everyone 
but Frampton, his servant, and one "Turk" had retired, the chaplain 
asked his servant, in Italian "as a language farthest from the stranger's 
capacity," why this young man tarried on. To Frampton's amazement, it 
was the young man himself who answered. When he queried further, 
it transpired that this was a French soldier who had fought with the 
Venetians at the siege of Candia during their long defense against the 
Ottomans (1645-69) and who, emaciated and near death, had thrown 
himself on the mercy of the besieging Ottoman army. He now lived, as a 
Muslim, in "a good plight," and had "good habit, freedom, and mony in 
my purse." Despite this renegade's insistence on "the justice and morallity 
of his new way," the devout Anglican minister considered this apostasy 
appalling. With fire and brimstone he exhorted repentance, to such effect 
that the renegade, trembling, proclaimed that he would the next morning 
go to the kadi and "renounce my error and by God's grace lay down my 
life to seal the truth of my repentance."^^ Frampton refused to allow this 
fatal step, and instead convinced the man to accompany him to Aleppo 
where he was released into the custody of the French consul and spirited 
off to Christendom. 

Frampton later acted to rescue the soul of a second renegade, this time 
a Portuguese friar, "a man of some learning but more levity, who had 
scandalously deserted the faith," and led a contented life in Aleppo. ^^ 
Contented, that is, until chaplain Frampton convinced him of the error 
of his ways and, again with the assistance of the French consul, had him 
also shipped off to Christendom. Frampton's work was less successful 
in this case. Perhaps it had been more haranguing than conviction that 
had brought the friar back into the fold, because several years later the 
mendicant, in Frampton's words, "return'd to his vomit again and liv'd 
in the same town."^° 

This English clergyman knew full well that he was testing the limits of 
Ottoman broadmindedness when he meddled with converts. In the first 

^^ Evans (ed.). Life of Robert Frampton, p. 64. 

^^ Evans (ed.). Life of Robert Frampton, pp. 56-60. All of this, of course, is according to 

^' Evans (ed.). Life of Robert Frampton, p. 61. 
^^ Evans (ed.). Life of Robert Frampton, p. 65. 

212 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

case, he expressed fear that the young Frenchman intended to inform 
against him to Ottoman authorities. In the second case, the plot was in- 
deed discovered. Frampton, fearing Ottoman reprisals, formulated, but 
for some reason never effected, a flight to England. Perhaps his friends in 
Aleppo shielded him. Or perhaps Frampton and other missionaries as- 
sumed wrongly that the Ottomans would abide exactly by the strictures of 
Islam in cases of apostates. ^^ In any case, it was only several years later, 
in 1667, that he returned to England to marry Mary Canning, before 
returning with his bride to his chaplaincy in Aleppo for another three 

These restrictions upon proselytizing remind us that the Ottomans 
were not tolerant and unprejudiced in any modern sense. Ottoman au- 
thorities were no less certain than were others of the exclusive truth 
of their faith; they punished the heretic and the apostate with no less 
fury. Nevertheless, Islam did provide a position in society for the infi- 
del. Although Frampton and other Christians probably were right to fear 
reprisal for trying to win Muslims over to Christianity, neither he nor 
other English clergymen expressed much appreciation at being allowed 
to live and work in the Ottoman Empire. His Muslim, Jewish, or even 
Catholic counterparts would not have been allowed to settle, much less 
undertake professional religious work, in his own homeland, where reli- 
gious difference, publicly at least, remained anathema. 

Basire and Frampton probably were somewhat anomalous in their en- 
gagement with Ottoman society. English sojourners — whether diplomat, 
merchant, or divine — tended to exhibit much less interest in that world. 
In their writings, they stressed biblical and classical sites, the physical re- 
mains of which tell us little of their relations with Ottoman society. When 
their comments did drift into contemporary observations, they almost 
invariably discussed their own worlds of friends, family, community, and 
commerce. Only infrequently did English clergymen and others delve 
into the manifold Ottoman realm. When they did so, it almost always 
was to express either awe or contempt for this huge and elaborate world 
that, if they had stopped to consider, might have made their own isle seem 
almost bereft of human variety. 

One result of this documentary void is that we have little direct knowl- 
edge of what the more established locals made of such exotic visitors. 
Shopkeepers, merchants, agriculturists, mariners, janissaries, religious 
officials, and administrators came into daily contact with these strange 

' ' In the nineteenth century, at least, the Ottoman government was reluctant to take any 
action against apostates, on which see Selim Deringil, '"There is no compulsion in 
religion': on conversion and apostasy in the late Ottoman Empire: 1839-1856," 

Comparative Studies iji Society and History 42(2000): 547—75. 

A changing station in Europe 213 

characters who roamed across their landscapes, sketching the debris of 
dead civilizations and earnestly admonishing Christian Ottoman subjects 
to alter their spiritual practices. How much, though, does this superficial 
acquaintance differ from the modern tourist's, who travels to Jerusalem to 
visit Hebrew and Christian sites or Istanbul to see Roman and Byzantine 
ones? Are these modern sightseers any more aware of the people and 
society around them than were the Anglican clergymen who visited the 
Ottoman realm? 

We must rely upon hints and reconstructions to contemplate the 
English clergyman's association with the Ottoman world. I am convinced 
that close relations existed and at times were strong. Otherwise Isaac 
Basire could not have journeyed the breadth of Anatolia with a band of 
Turks; Robert Frampton could not have whiled away the evenings spraw- 
led across divans, sipping wine and deep in conversation with Ottoman 
pashas, kadis, and other dignitaries; and these and other clergymen could 
not have fraternized socially and intellectually with such a gamut of 
Ottoman society. It was the Ottoman world that made such encounters 
possible, and it is the Ottoman world with its manifold elasticity rather 
than the western European one with its excluding rigidity to which we 
must turn to explore how such encounters could have taken place. 

A new-style conflict 

Frampton's French renegade, who had defended Venetian Candia against 
Ottoman troops before "turning Turk," exemplifies both the persistent 
porosity of the military frontier between Christendom and Islam and the 
particular case of Crete, which experienced a surge of converts to Islam 
during and after the war.^^ He also articulates the lengthy and terrible 
Veneto-Ottoman struggle for the island of Crete that paralleled Dutch, 
English, and French movements into Ottoman commercial grounds pre- 
viously occupied by the Venetians. It was typical of Ottoman relations 
with the rest of Europe that commerce and warfare persisted simulta- 
neously. Whereas in the previous century, however, some Venetians had 
traded in Ottoman domains even as other Venetians fought the Ottoman 
government, now it was other Europeans who did so; and whereas in 
previous centuries, Mediterranean states were the most powerful ones 
in Europe, by the middle of the seventeenth century the states of the 
Atlantic seaboard had surpassed them. 

Even though after the fall of Cyprus in the previous century Crete 
became the only significant Venetian colony in the eastern-Mediterranean 

'^ On which see below, and Greene, A shared world, pp. 39-44. 

214 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

seas, it was some seventy years before the Ottomans finally attacked it, and 
almost twenty-five more before they conquered it. Their hesitancy derived 
in part from consuming and exhausting wars elsewhere, first against the 
Habsburgs (the "long war" that punctuated the turn of the century) and 
then against a resurging Safavid Empire under the dynamic Shah Abbas. 
Only with the reconquest of Baghdad from the Safavids in 1638 were 
Ottoman borders again secure enough for the state finally to turn its 
attention to rounding out its eastern-Mediterranean frontiers. 

Just as important as warfare in explaining Ottoman lethargy were trans- 
formations in Ottoman political life. Sultans eager to legitimize their new 
reigns had spearheaded earlier campaigns that led to the conquests of 
Constantinople, the Arab lands, Rhodes, Belgrade, and Cyprus. In the 
seventeenth century, however, not only did few sultans have the ability to 
lead armies, but also such public expressions of power were no longer nec- 
essary in the mature Ottoman state. Instead, it was factions, often led by 
grand viziers, imperial mothers, and favorite wives and concubines, that 
made high-policy decisions. Not only were such semi-legitimate commit- 
tees often irresolute and short-lived, but also they had little to gain from 
aggressive military action. If such campaigns failed, they lost money, their 
positions, and perhaps their heads; if they succeeded, the glory was the 
sultan's and the state's rather than theirs. 

A series of such coteries were in power in the years preceding and subse- 
quent to 1 645, when the Sublime Porte finally launched an invading fleet 
against Crete. The reign of the notoriously erratic Ibrahim (1 640—48) was 
particularly shaky. It began steadily enough, with a veteran and cautious, 
if uneasy, faction led by the sultan's authoritarian mother, Kosem, and 
his predecessor's grand vizier, Kemanke? Kara Mustafa Pasha, firmly in 
control. Relations between the sultan and his family soon deteriorated, 
however, as the Ottoman historian Naima explains: 

The sultan's mother would sometimes speak affectionately, giving counsel to 
the . . .padi§ah. But because he paid no attention to her, she became reluctant 
to talk with him, and for a long while resided in the gardens near Topkapi. 
During this time the sultan became angry as a result of some rumors and sent 
the grand vizier Ahmed Pasha to exile his mother to the garden of Iskender 

In 1 644, when the sultan finally had executed this vizier and had ban- 
ished from the capital his own mother, Kosem sultan, Ottoman leader- 
ship became more volatile. Not only were the eighteen men who held 
the grand vizierate over the next twelve years generally incompetent, but 

^' Mustafa Naima, Tarih, 6 vols. (Istanbul, 1863-64), vol. IV, p. 290; as quoted in Peirce, 
Imperial harem^ p. 246. 

A changing station in Europe 215 

Ibrahim also made a series of other unfortunate political and religious 
appointments (in the same period, Ibrahim and his successor appointed 
twelve §eyhulislams, twenty-three chiefs of finance, and eighteen grand 
admirals).^* With such rapid turnover in the most important posts, policy 
was bound to fluctuate. Sometimes missteps could be remedied; once war 
was declared, however, it was hard to reverse course. 

In 1645, a war party led by Jinji Hoca, a spiritual advisor, and the grand 
admiral Yusuf Pasha, convinced the sultan to attack Venetian Crete, over 
the objections of a peace party led by the grand vizier Semin Mehmed 
Pasha. In late April, a fleet under the command of Yusuf Pasha set sail 
from Istanbul, and within two years the Ottomans had conquered most 
of the island other than the north-central port city of Candia. That the 
progress was so rapid was due only in part to Ottoman arms; many of 
Crete's Greek Orthodox majority were fed up with Catholic Venetian rule 
and welcomed the invasion. At the walls of Candia, however, the oper- 
ation stalled. It took another quarter-century of grinding hostilities and 
destructive barrages against Candia before the Ottoman military finally 
completed the conquest. 

During this quarter-century, the Ottoman military controlled all of 
Crete but Candia, and during this period thousands of Cretans con- 
verted to Islam and joined the Ottoman army. This phenomenon was 
unique among Greek Orthodox peoples under Ottoman rule, and re- 
quires some explanation. Some probably converted at sword point, as had 
Frampton's French renegade. Most, however, must have done so volun- 
tarily. A widespread and festering resentment against Catholic Venice only 
in part explains the unusually high rate of Islamization; otherwise, Greek 
Orthodox antipathy on other Venetian-held islands would have led to sim- 
ilar rates of conversion. Several other factors also help illuminate its occur- 
rence. For one thing, hundreds of years of repressive Latin control had left 
the peasantry of the island with hardly even a memory of an Orthodox 
ecclesiastical hierarchy. The consequent lack of guidance in orthodoxy 
and steadfastness disconnected Cretans from their religious roots and 
left them exposed to deviation and spiritual drift. In other words, many 
parts of the island existed as those isolated in-between worlds that are 
so characteristically Mediterranean and have been described eloquently 
as "a separate religious geography" that "constantly had to be taken, 
conquered and reconquered" by organized religions and settled states. ^^ 
Thus, large sections of Crete and other out-of-the-way Mediterranean 
places shared with the more infamous Ottoman Albania reputations for 

^'' See Robert Mantran, "L'etat ottoman au XVIP siecle: stabilisation ou declin?" in Histoire 
de I'empire ottoman, ed. Robert Mantran (Paris, 1989), p. 237. 
Braudel, Mediterranean and the Mediterranean world, p. 33. 

216 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

religious fickleness. It was in such pockets that Islam tended to make the 
quickest progress. 

Nevertheless, perhaps it is changes in the Ottoman state and military 
between the great conquests of the sixteenth century (the Arab lands, 
Hungary, Cyprus) and the capture of Crete a century later that best ex- 
plain the inclination of Cretans to convert. ^^ First of all, the seventeenth- 
century dispersion of power meant that viziers, pashas, other influential 
Ottoman statesmen, and especially the important Kopriilii family, rather 
than the sultan and his household controlled the lands of conquered 
Crete. The desires of these notables to exploit the subject territories in 
different ways than would the monarch gave native converts new eco- 
nomic and social opportunities. Secondly, that same erosion in the value 
of the Ottoman cavalry and the simultaneous growth of the janissary and 
other infantry corps that had compelled the state to loosen recruitment 
in the Balkans, Anatolia, and elsewhere also provided Cretans the op- 
portunity to move directly into the military (and thus the ruling order) 
through the simple act of conversion. It seems, in fact, that the long war, 
during all but the first year of which the Ottomans controlled most of 
the island, encouraged displaced agriculturists, viticulturists, and other 
workers opportunistically to convert in order to enter themselves into 
Ottoman military rolls. In the end, not only did the Muslim proportion 
of the island's population become greater than in the rest of the Greek 
Orthodox Ottoman world, but the makeover occurred without the dis- 
ruptive transplantations of population that had followed Ottoman con- 
quests in the Balkans and on Cyprus. In short, it was a principally home- 
grown and consequently relatively smooth transition from Venetian to 
Ottoman rule on Crete. 

Ironically, it was the inability of Venice to call Christendom to its aid 
that was most critical in prolonging the war and motivating so many to 
"turn Turk." In previous conflicts, the crusading ideal had promoted at 
least tacit support from Mediterranean states. At times, as in the Battle 
of Lepanto and the defense of Malta, Venice had been able to effect holy 
leagues. The Serenissima did try to cobble together such a league in this 
war, reaching out even to distant England. As late as 1655, for example, 
the Senate drafted an appeal to Oliver Cromwell as a fellow Christian in 
which it complained of "these most barbarous Infidells, whoe have noe 
other end but the oppression of Christendome," and who "doe multiplie 
their forces utterly to subiugate the Kingdome of Candie, beinge the 
bullwarke of Italy, and an entrance, wherby the most insidious nation of 
the Turks may thrust themselves forwards to the oppression of the better 

^* On which see Greene, A shared world, pp. 41-42. 

A changing station in Europe 217 

part of Europe." The Venetians may have couched their letter in the 
language of holy war, but they understood that, with Cromwell, they also 
needed a practical tone, and added: "never will there be scene a more 
propitious conjuncture to suppresse the Ottoman Empire, being nowe 
tired under the burthen of eleven yeares warre, directed by the counsell 
of women, exhausted of souldiers and money and can hardly resist the 
[Venetian] comonwealth alone."^^ 

This bleak assessment of Ottoman fortunes seemed accurate in 1655. 
The war was stalemated; Ibrahim had been assassinated in 1648; his 
successor, Mehmed IV, was a minor firmly under his mother Turhan's 
control; Mehmed's grandmother, Kosem, had herself been assassinated 
(rumor had it poisoned at Turhan's behest) in 1 651; a desperate treasury 
was grasping money wherever it could find it (for example the grand vizier 
Melek Ahmed Pasha in that very year imposed extraordinary taxes on all 
timars; and between May 1655 and October 1656 the sultan appointed 
and removed seven grand viziers, six ^eyhiilislams, and five grand admi- 
rals). Cromwell nevertheless ignored Venice's plea, instead sending his 
navy to wage war against the Spaniards in the Caribbean and continuing 
the longstanding English policy of leaving the Mediterranean theater to 
the directors of the English Levant Company. 

In the war over Crete, not only did Venice have to stand alone, but also 
England joined other northern European powers in playing off one side 
against the other. They were able to do so largely because the increas- 
ing naval dominance of Atlantic seaboard states in the Mediterranean 
world after the Battle of Lepanto not only insulated their shipping from 
the Cretan war, but also reduced the two contestants into supplicants 
for military aid. By the 1 640s, Dutch, English, and French vessels were 
faster, more maneuverable, and better armed than were Ottoman and 
Venetian ships. Indeed, the Ottomans had surrendered the open seas to 
their rivals. In other words, whereas in the sixteenth century, Ottoman 
power had projected itself across the Mediterranean as far as Malta, 
by the 1640s it extended no further than the shorelines of the Aegean 
Sea. This reduced power meant that when the Ottoman surge that had 
begun the war faltered at the walls of Candia, the authorities had great 
trouble provisioning the army that they had landed on Crete, and the 
conflict deteriorated into one of attrition. 

During this war a principal Ottoman weakness lay with its navy, a 
fact no more tellingly proven than in its sporadic inability to defeat the 
Venetian strategy of blockading the Dardanelles. By the 1 640s, Istanbul 
was probably the largest city in Europe, with a population that had swollen 

^^ Bodleian Library, Rawlinson MS A.31, pp. 13—15. 

218 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

to perhaps 300,000. Food and clothing for these people came from 
throughout the empire. Thousands of sheep raised in the Balkan pro- 
vinces were driven to the outskirts of the city and slaughtered each year, 
and countless tons of grain, fruits, and vegetables were transported by ship 
from the port towns of the Black and Aegean seas. It was a matter of ur- 
gency that the sea lanes be kept open. The Venetians, then, countered 
the Candian siege not by attacking the Ottoman army directly, but by 
harassing its supply lines and by attempting to cut off Istanbul's access 
to the entire Aegean by blockading the Dardanelles Straits. 

A century earlier, when the Mediterranean lay at the economic, politi- 
cal, and ideological heart of Europe, this tactic probably would have been 
effective. In the seventeenth century, however, not only was the Ottoman- 
Venetian conflict regional, but also western European powers supported 
the Ottomans, whom they might previously have spurned as an Islamic 
state, as well as the Catholic Venetians, whom they might previously have 
backed as a Christian state. Although such aid was not unprecedented 
(witness the Franco-Ottoman understanding against Charles V during 
Siileyman's reign), it was new in the sense that Venice constituted even 
less of a threat to the other states of Europe than did the Ottomans. In 
short, the cause for Dutch, English, and French interference in this war 
was neither ideological nor military; it was commercial. 

The vacillating participation of English ships in the war makes unmis- 
takable this mercantile foundation. Granted, English vessels often took 
part informally. Renegade ships' captains made enormous proflts from 
the desperate plight of both sides, by sometimes breaching the Ottoman 
cordon at Candia and at other times running the Venetian blockade of 
the Dardanelles or provisioning Ottoman troops on Crete. Nevertheless, 
English officials also involved themselves more formally. In 1 649, for ex- 
ample, the English ambassador authorized thirteen English ships, laden 
with Ottoman soldiers and provisions, not only to sail from Izmir and 
land them near Candia, but also to join a large Ottoman fieet (together 
with a few French and Flemish vessels) whose purpose was to break the 
Venetian blockade of the Dardanelles.^^ 

The willingness of northern European governments to allow their ships 
to join an Ottoman naval fleet suggests that neither avarice nor ideology 
was the only factor in foreign participation in the Cretan war. Indeed, 
this particular flotilla had created quite a stir in Istanbul. As one of the 
English ambassador's clerks observed, its launching in the spring of 1 647 
had been 

^^ Calendar of state papers, Venice, vol. XXVIII, p. 98, no. 268; and p. 99, no. 272 (Alberti 
and Vianuol to Doge and Senate: 15 May 1649). See Goffman, Britons, pp. 150—54, for 
a more thorough treatment of this incident. 

A changing station in Europe 219 

One of the most glorious sights the City yeelds: It consisted then of about :60: 
Gallies, and Gally-grosses, and :30: Shipps, all which were richly guilded, painted, 
and furbish'd, new out of theyr Arsenall, full laden with Men, Gunns and Provi- 
sions, and clad from Stemm to Sterne with most glorious Bandiers: (theyr gunns 
all thundred together, w"" such an Eccho as the World has scarse the Like.^' 

Even though some contemporary observers may have shared historians' 
belief that this fleet of some ninety ships was far more shoddily con- 
structed and technologically backward than the fleets that the Ottomans 
had floated a century earlier, nevertheless it must have been an inspiring 
and fearsome sight to look down from the hills of Pera into the Golden 
Horn and see such a forest of vessels materialize below. 

Not only did such displays influence the approach of western Euro- 
peans toward the war, but so did Ottoman ability to disrupt commerce. 
That state's capacity to control the high seas may have been much re- 
duced. Nonetheless, foreign mariners and traders still had to mingle with 
Ottoman peoples in port cities, and all merchant ships still had to anchor 
in Ottoman harbors. Inhabitants understandably incensed at both food 
shortages and the Venetian enemy could easily become mobs and make 
even an evening stroll risky. As one English observer, demonstrating all 
of the prejudices of his time, notes: "the dayly hazards of being stabb'd 
by the drunken sottish Turkes: who supposing all to be Venetians that 
wore our westerne habit, (as if the world were divided between Venetians 
and Turkes) and they having lost in the war perhaps some neer relations, 
were allways apt to mischief us."*" Most such harassments of course oc- 
curred in Ottoman rather than Venetian cities simply because many more 
merchants lived and traded in Ottoman than in Venetian territory. 

Foreign merchants and diplomats perceived the Ottoman and Venetian 
governments themselves as even more of a threat to international trade 
than the subject peoples of the two empires. This peril derived from 
the ability of such authorities to harass traders, imprison representatives, 
and, most ominously, deny vessels the right to enter or quit anchorages in 
Ottoman ports. One result of the Venetian blockade of the Dardanelles, 
for example, was that all Dutch, English, and French merchant vessels 
sailing to Istanbul became subject to searches and confiscations. The 
English ambassador in 1648 had to obtain special permission from the 
Venetians before his ships could pass through the Dardanelles. In the same 
year English ship captain Edward Maplesden protested that he had 
twice attempted to traverse the Venetian blockade of the straits and 
had twice been turned back. Not only had he lost much time and money 

^' Bargrave, Relation, fo. 2 Iv. 
^^ Bargrave, Relation, fo. 22v. 

220 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

from these failed sailings, but he feared that if he tried again to pass 
through to the capital city, the Ottomans might conclude that he "went up 
only to victual and furnish their enemies with provisions (which they do 
already mutter and begin to report) so by that means may not only bring 
an Avania upon himself and ship, but also upon the whole nation."^^ The 
Venetians of course suspected that foreign ships were doing exactly the 
same thing for the Ottomans. Two years earlier, the English ambassador 
had ordered English ships to steer clear of the port of Izmir, ostensibly 
in order to avoid the threat that the Ottoman government would seize 
such vessels for service in the Cretan war.*^ No such threat in fact really 
existed, for until the Ottomans built a fortress at the mouth of the Gulf of 
Izmir in the late 1650s, vessels could sail into and out of the harbor with 
impunity and it was more a case of the foreigners harassing the populace 
of Izmir than the other way around. ^^ 

One should not conclude from these examples that individual dip- 
lomats and merchants always acted on behalf of their states and com- 
patriots. In the early months of the war, and just as the Ottoman 
campaign had begun to falter at the walls of Candia, the English ambas- 
sador Sackvile Crow several times visited the grand vizier Salih Pasha to 
accuse the English factory in Izmir of persistently supplying the Venetians 
with grains, weapons, soldiers, and oarsmen.^* He twice secured orders 
from the Ottoman government forbidding English ships from lading in 
that town. Crow's motives were both personal (he bore a grudge against 
the English consul in Izmir) and political (his king, Charles I, had ordered 
him to seize the merchants' goods on behalf of the monarchy's doomed 
campaign against the parliamentarians). Nevertheless, such actions must 
have considerably raised fears of meddlings in the Cretan War. 

The risk that Dutch, English, and French vessels would become more 
actively involved in the war created dilemmas for both the Venetians and 
the Ottomans. For example, should the Venetians refuse foreign ships 
ingress into the Dardanelles, the captains of these same vessels might 
be tempted to help the Ottomans break their blockade; should they let 
such vessels through, however, then not only was the very purpose of the 

^' Public Record Office, State Papers 105/174, pp. 149—50. On the term "avania," see 
Merlijn Olnon, "Towards classifying avanias: a study of two cases involving the English 
and Dutch nations in seventeenth-century Izmir," in Friends and rivals in the East: studies 
in Anglo-Dutch relations in the Levant from the seventeenth to the early nineteenth century^ ed. 
Alistair Hamilton, Alexander H. de Groot, Haurits H. van den Boogert (Leiden, 2000), 
pp. 159-86. 

^^ The real cause may have been dissension within the English nation, on which see 
Goffman, Britons, pp. 148—53. 

*^ Eldem, Goffman, and Masters (eds.), Ottoman city, pp. 106-9. 

*^ Basbakanlik Osmanli Arsivi, Miihimme Defteri 90, p. 43, no. 130; and p. 44, no. 139. 

A changing station in Europe 22 1 

blockade defeated, but they were helping their commercial rivals to fab- 
ulous earnings in the desperate markets of Istanbul. Such quandaries oc- 
curred only because the Mediterranean governments were losing control 
of their own seas to rivals for whom ideological issues were less important 
than economic and political ones. This willingness to negotiate with and 
support an infidel power even against a Christian one not only reflected an 
emerging attention to commerce (mercantilism), it also was a conse- 
quence of exposure to myriad peoples in the Americas, Africa, and Asia. 
Furthermore, the societies of western Europe were themselves becoming 
more open-minded about religion. At this very time, both non-Calvinists 
and Jews were migrating to the Netherlands, a spirited discussion about 
the resettlement of Jews had become part of a larger debate about toler- 
ation in England, and Huguenots had (temporarily to be sure) become 
part of the overwhelmingly Catholic body politic in France. 

In an environment in which exclusive religion was being questioned 
even at home, it should be no surprise that political expediency began 
to replace religious ideology also in the eastern Mediterranean. Factors 
and other representatives of Atlantic seaboard companies urged aban- 
donment of their Venetian coreligionists simply because it made political 
and economic sense to do so; their suggestions more and more became 
company and state policy. Consequently, Venice not only had to stand 
alone against an empire that, while militarily weakened, still could draw 
upon enormous resources and manpower, but could not even rely upon 
the neutrality of its fellow Christian states. In 1669, the Republic finally 
surrendered Candia and the island of Crete passed into Ottoman hands. 

The hands into which it passed, however, were not the sultan's. 
Mehmed IV (1648-87) was no more assertive a ruler than his imme- 
diate predecessors had been, and in his first years the revolving-door gov- 
ernment of the previous few decades persisted and even intensified. In 
September 1656, however, it ended abruptly when the imperial mother 
Turhan, desperate because of a renewed and effective Venetian blockade 
of the Dardanelles, appointed as grand vizier the octogenarian Kopriilu 
Mehmed, who probably had been taken as a dev§irme boy and had had a 
long and not very illustrious career in the imperial household. 

Mehmed Pasha soon acquired a reputation for mercilessly expung- 
ing the corruption that ostensibly suffused the Ottoman administration. 
According to hearsay, he did so by having killed as many as 4,000 ad- 
ministrators and powerful persons. His role in this bloody purge certainly 
was vital. Nevertheless, there is some evidence that the sultan already had 
embarked upon such a policy and deserves some credit (or blame) for 
the eradication of corrupt statesmen as well as the reforms that followed. 
The English ambassador. Sir Thomas Bendysh, for example, reported 

222 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

four months before the Kopriilii appointment that the young sultan had 
just ordered the chief customs collector executed, 

And finding his people noway disturbed thereat, takes heart, and every day goes 
disguised about the city with only one servant appearing with him, and where he 
sees any injustice done, or any violation made of his orders in selling, buying, or 
exchanging money, he immediately chops off their heads having his Executioner 
to that purpose not far off.'" 

Whether it was the sultan or the grand vizier who tightened the reins of 
government, it was the latter who received the credit. Furthermore, it 
was under Mehmed Pasha's son, Kopriilii Fazil Ahmed, that the empire 
finally finished the conquest of Crete in 1669, and under Ahmed Pasha's 
cousin, Kara Mustafa, that revitalized Ottoman armies in 1683 invested 
Vienna for one last time. 

In short, during the second half of the seventeenth century and into 
the early eighteenth century - and in the most palpable illustration of 
the rise of pasha households - the Kopriilii clan became the wealthiest 
and most powerful of Ottoman families. This adjustment from monar- 
chal to vizierial governance was perceptible in many facets of Ottoman 
life, but displayed itself most plainly in public works. In Izmir, for exam- 
ple, Mehmed Pasha in 1658 or 1659 ordered the construction of a castle, 
Sancakburnu Kalesi, intended to supervise shipping, and in the 1670s 
Ahmed Pasha helped finance in the same town the building of an aque- 
duct, a khan, a covered marketplace, public baths, and a customs shed. 
The Kopriilii association with Crete after 1669 was even more visible 
and absolute. For its conquest, Ahmed Pasha granted himself much of 
the best land on the island, and he rather than the sultan supervised 
its integration into the Ottoman world. *^ Under this family, then, the 
Ottoman polity lost some of its despotic nature; in its place, a form of 
familial oligarchy emerged. 

The Ottoman Empire and the making of Europe 

In most spheres, the Ottoman Empire was more a part of Europe in the 
seventeenth century than it had been in the sixteenth. This movement 
toward a European norm (and in some ways as we have seen, the passage 
was toward an Ottoman norm) derived in part simply from a decline in 
fear. The Veneto-Ottoman war over Crete, even more than the earlier 
Habsburg-Ottoman ones over Hungary, made it clear that this Islamic 

"5 Bodleian Library, Rawlinson MS A.38, p. 179. 
^* Greene, A shared world, pp. 27-32. 

A changing station in Europe 


30 Not only their costumes, but also their very postures rnarl^ the 
western Europeans in this opulent reception, for they sit on chairs in 
a semi-circle and face their vizieral hosts who are reclined on divans. In 
the center background are a quotation from the Qur'an, two imperial 
signatures (tugras), and the shadowy figure of the sultan observing the 
get-together through a latticed casement. D'Ohsson, Tableau general de 
I'Empire othoman., vol. Ill, after p. 454. 

state no longer posed a significant military threat to the rising states of 
western Europe. Nor were the gazes of these states any longer fixed pri- 
marily upon the Mediterranean world, for they had now become aware 
of the enormous opportunities to exploit the worlds of eastern Asia and 
the Americas. 

224 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

Fear of the Ottomans also had had its stereotypical and irrational 
elements. These began to dissipate in the late sixteenth and early seven- 
teenth centuries as cliched understandings of the "terrible Turk" in north- 
ern Europe began to break down through the dissemination of parti- 
culars about Ottoman society. In earlier decades, Italians had secured 
considerable information about the Ottomans through the settlements of 
Genoese, Venetians, and others in the empire and the reports oibaili and 
other official appointees in Istanbul and elsewhere. The writings of Italian 
political philosophers such as Guicciardini and Macchiavelli, for exam- 
ple, encompass thoughtful reflections on the Ottoman state and society. 
Their data must have come from such informants. 

As more and more northern Europeans visited the Ottoman domains, 
they also gained more profound insight into that world. The personal ex- 
periences of such sojourners as John Sanderson, George Sandys, Robert 
Bargrave, Thomas Bendysh, the Chevalier de la Croix, Jean de Thevenot, 
and Paul Rycaut, distributed across northern Europe through their writ- 
ings, helped not only to diminish irrational fears of the Ottomans as a 
civilization of the "other," but also to integrate that empire more se- 
curely into an emerging Europe. Although it is difficult to ascertain how 
generally these writings were read, it is certain that this diffusion of in- 
formation occurred in various ways.^^ Some of these travelers, such as 
John Sanderson and George Sandys, recorded their experiences in the 
travel books that Richard Hakluyt, Samuel Purchas, and others began 
publishing. Others, such as Thomas Bendysh and Paul Rycaut, did so in 
letters and political analyses that were meant for heads of companies and 
states and sometimes found their way into print. 

These men (and until Lady Mary Wortley Montague in the eighteenth 
century, such writers were virtually always men) were not social scien- 
tists or historians. They wrote rather as diplomats, clergymen, classicists, 
and travelers. Their positions helped delineate their audiences; their per- 
spectives in important ways colored their appreciation of the worlds they 
observed. Some wrote exclusively about classical Greek and Roman sites; 
others exhibited interest only in Christian Ottomans; still others analyzed 
the Ottoman military and political system in order to praise or condemn 
it. With few exceptions, however, these travelers shared with many of 
today's tourists an absolute disinterest in contemporary indigenous peo- 
ples and societies. 

By the last decades of the seventeenth century, the Ottoman Empire 
was as integrated into Europe as it would ever be. Earlier, it had been 

^^ On this process as applied especially to east Asia, see Donald F. Lach and Edwin J. Van 
Kley, Asia in the making of Europe (Chicago, 1994), passim. 

A changing station in Europe 225 

perceived as too much the belligerent outsider for Christendom to inte- 
grate the empire into its political, economic, and social body. Later, as the 
"sick man of Europe" (a phrase that does suggest at least its geographic 
and political acceptance as a part of Europe) it was to become supposedly 
too weak to be taken seriously, and the empire lost much of its auton- 
omy as the "Great Powers" acted their disputes upon it. The Europe of 
Louis XIV and Charles II, however, considered the Ottomans - as friend 
or foe — along with the other states of Europe in their diplomatic, com- 
mercial, and military policies. This was an Ottoman Europe almost as 
much as it was a Venetian or Habsburg one. 

8 Conclusion. The Greater Western World 

It is never easy to explain the genesis of a state. Why did one people 
succeed over another? How did a particular family fashion a monarchy? 
What factors allowed one army to defeat another? Why did one ethnic, 
linguistic, or cultural group learn to dominate another? In fact, there is 
never a single or even a best explanation for state building, the details of 
which, always deemed critical, differ according to individual and group 
identity and prejudices. For example, the rich and sophisticated ancient 
Persian Empire represented barbaric despotism to Herodotus and other 
historians of ancient Greece, and the "manifest destiny" of Americans or 
the "white man's burden" of Englishmen were mere brutality and bad 
luck to the native American or the Irish. Indeed, the histories of state 
formation, while always having some basis in fact, often are constructed 
according to later desires and constitute the very core of state or national 

The story of the foundation of the Ottoman polity is no exception. 
There is little evidence to back the accepted versions of the lineage of the 
House of Osman as ancient and highborn or the reputations of Osman, 
Orhan, and Murad as astute politicians and fierce warriors. Indeed, in 
terms of concrete documentation, there is no certainty that the dynasty 
was even ethnically Turkish. It could as easily have been of Arab, Persian, 
or even French as of Turkoman extraction (although common sense and 
circumstantial evidence do bespeak a central-Asian origin). Since identi- 
ties are historical and social constructs, however, one can argue that what 
is historically most significant in this case, as in others, is not whether 
Osman actually swept out of Central Asia, or whether his first language 
was Turkic, Indo-European, or Semitic, but that those who came later 
understood him to have done certain things and acted in certain ways. 
In other words, a central tenet of Ottoman identity was that the dynasty 
came out of Central Asia, an essential aspect of identity in the Republic of 
Turkey is that Osman was Turkish, and an imperative in other Ottoman 
successor states' perceptions of self is that Ottoman rulers were Turkish- 
es they emphatically are not. 


228 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

Common sense also suggests that although Ottoman lineage (at least 
in its male line) may have been Turkic, the ideological and political shape 
of the Ottoman emirate owed a great deal to Persia, the Arab lands, the 
Byzantine Empire, and Italian city-states. After all, during its early cen- 
turies the polity drew upon the civilizations of the Middle East and Islam. 
Furthermore, it not only abutted Byzantium, but also was entangled phys- 
ically with that Greek Orthodox state, and its emirs quickly established 
commercial relations with both Genoa and Venice. Living in such middle 
grounds, the Ottomans proved adept at learning about and borrowing 
from Christendom and its institutions. Ottoman brides and concubines 
often came from European states and dynasties, the polity's bureaucracy 
and administration owed much to Byzantine sources, and its commercial 
and economic policies were built upon Genoese and Venetian models. 
If an early fifteenth-century concept of Europe as a civilizational entity 
had existed, this state surely would have had a place in it. 

Of course, "Europe" as a unifying notion did not exist in the early mod- 
ern world and religion remained a potent divide between the Christian 
and Islamic ecumenes. Indeed, the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 
merely magnified an Ottoman sense of destiny even as it deepened the 
Christian world's dread of and aversion toward this new-sprung Islamic 
state. In other words, the conquest dampened any nascent psychologi- 
cal or physical sense of integration into a greater European world that 
economic and social dealings and marital intimacy may have induced. 
Nevertheless, even this perceived disaster for Christendom in some ways 
inspired accommodation. The conquest certainly legitimized Ottoman 
claims as a successor to Rome. It also filled a vacuum at the empire's 
core and obliged the governments of all merchants plying the eastern 
Mediterranean seas to conclude commercial and political alliances with 
this Islamic state and establish settlements in its domains. Italians were 
the first to do so, with the Genoese colony in Galata negotiating a treaty 
even before Constantinople had fallen and the Venetians speeding a rep- 
resentative to negotiate commercial agreements as soon as the Senate 
received the news. In subsequent decades, the French, English, Dutch 
and others followed the Italian lead. 

Such treaties established ground rules by which foreigners and their 
governments could not only communicate with the Ottoman state but 
also learn first-hand about Ottoman society. During the sixteenth and 
early seventeenth centuries, several European states posted diplomats 
in Istanbul even as factories boasting consuls, clergymen, and merchants 
established themselves in other Ottoman cities such as Cairo, Aleppo, and 
Izmir. Venetian, French, English, Dutch, and other sojourners not only 
soon became part of these cities' topographies, but also communicated 

Conclusion 229 

their experiences and impressions to their governments and peoples back 
home. Such contacts helped shrink the ideological chasm between the 
Christian and Islamic worlds and made the empire seem less exotic and 

Despite the Ottoman insistence that their state also had the right to 
set up such outposts in other European principalities, these western 
European settlements were not much reciprocated. Shipwrecked and cap- 
tive Turks sometimes made their ways to the streets of London, Paris, and 
Genoa in the early modern period, as did the occasional emissary. Nev- 
ertheless, with the exception of a small fondaco that Ottoman Muslims 
founded in late sixteenth-century Venice, no Muslim Ottoman quar- 
ters existed in any foreign European cities before the eighteenth century. 
Consequently, although citizens of Ottoman port cities were on familiar 
terms with both subject and foreign Christians, only those few western 
Europeans who ventured into the empire had met Ottoman Muslims 
who were not either slaves, captives, or extraordinary ambassadors. Fur- 
thermore, this lopsided familiarity meant that although many Ottomans 
knew individual foreigners personally, few had first-hand experience of 
the civilizations that had produced them. Similarly, even though the 
Ottoman government learned a great deal about the West by way of 
emissaries, renegades, merchants, and missionaries, the Ottoman public 
probably knew far less about other European polities and societies than 
those societies knew of the Ottomans. As a result, our understanding of 
early modern interactions between the Ottoman Empire and the rest of 
Europe derives principally from non-Ottoman sources. 

Partly because of such lopsided documentation, historians long have 
envisaged the sixteenth-century Ottoman Empire, and especially the 
period during which Siileyman the Magnificent governed (1520-66), 
as splendid. During this "Golden Age," it often is observed, the em- 
pire reached its "natural" frontiers in the Balkan, Mediterranean, and 
Middle Eastern worlds. The Ottomans also realized both land- and sea- 
based military dominance over their foes, and exercised "despotic" con- 
trol over their far-flung provinces. Most importantly, it is claimed, the 
Empire's societal and governmental institutions attained a pristine flaw- 
lessness from which they could only degenerate. In short, many scholars 
have conceptualized Siileyman's regime as an ideal toward which earlier 
Ottomans had striven and which later Ottomans, perhaps inevitably, had 

Not only did Siileyman's own descendants accept this model, but 
Ottoman chroniclers also helped perpetuate it, and it has much to rec- 
ommend it, for those institutions that historians usually cite to exem- 
plify it - the janissary corps, the timar system, the codified legal edifice. 

230 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

the imperial household — did work particularly well during his reign. 
Nevertheless, accepting this model is like admiring the facade of a me- 
dieval church without inspecting its interior. Not only was the Ottoman 
Empire far too complex to be incapsulated in a few institutions, but 
also already in Siileyman's time some formative organizations were in 
"decline" or had been jettisoned entirely and others had not yet even 
appeared. Even those most often cited as typically and uniquely Ottoman 
never achieved the perfect form that later ages assigned them. During 
the Siileymanic age as always they were everchanging, permeable, and 

Just as Ottoman institutions were never immutable, so did Ottoman re- 
lations with the rest of Europe never become fixed. An elastic association 
with the Byzantine Empire and other states had distinguished Ottoman 
international relations during the fourteenth and early fifteenth cen- 
turies. By the mid fifteenth century, however, that Greek Orthodox behe- 
moth had expired. After 1453 the Ottoman Empire confronted Catholic 
Europe directly, in both the Balkan Peninsula and the Mediterranean Sea. 
This intrusion dismayed and disrupted all Catholic states, but particu- 
larly those such as Poland, Hungary, and Venice that now shared frontiers 
with the Islamic giant. 

Ottoman advances westward probably influenced and transformed the 
Republic of St. Mark more than any other of those Catholic principalities 
that had survived the initial onslaught. For Venice now not only shared a 
frontier with the Ottomans and had to acquire grains, spices, and other 
goods from Ottoman port towns, but also had to adjust to the gradual loss 
of the seaborne commercial empire that the city-state had painstakingly 
raised in the eastern Mediterranean over the previous several centuries. 
Beginning in 1453 with the conquest of Constantinople and ending over 
200 years later with the taking of Venetian Crete in 1669, the Ottoman 
Empire slowly consumed the Venetian Empire until, east of the Adriatic, 
the city-state possessed only a few small islands. 

If in the late fifteenth century the Venetian Empire had confronted 
the Ottomans as a military equal, by the turn of the century it could no 
longer compete even on the seas. Furthermore, within decades the city- 
state would be willing to fight only in coalition with other more potent and 
zealous powers, and even then it skirmished only reluctantly, for with each 
engagement its frontiers and resources shrank as it lost a host of colonies, 
including Negroponte, Lepanto, and Cyprus. By the mid seventeenth 
century, Venice could no longer rely upon even the neutrality of other 
Christian states, as the example of Crete proves. Here, Dutch, English, 
and French ships all helped provision and transport Ottoman troops, 
thereby directly contributing to the Venetian loss of that island. 

Conclusion 231 

Remarkably, Ottoman— Venetian relations did not collapse as a result of 
these humiliating losses. Rather, they became richer and more complex 
as Venice learned to replace empire with commerce, power with diplo- 
macy. Through its ability to adjust, the Serenissima proved a key actor 
in the integration of the Ottoman Empire into the rest of Europe. As a 
frontier state nestled between Christian and Islamic Europe, Venice itself 
became a kind of middle ground; it had to adapt to survive. Its subjects 
sojourned in Ottoman Istanbul, Negroponte, Lepanto, and Cyprus as 
merchants. Here they learned Ottoman ways, disseminating this knowl- 
edge throughout western Europe, and helped sustain Venice's economic 
power despite its loss of empire. 

The city-state's tenuous situation vis-a-vis the Ottomans also helped 
spur its leaders to form their celebrated diplomatic corps. Astute resident 
agents settled in Istanbul, Aleppo, Alexandria, and other Ottoman cities 
to learn how best to negotiate and live with this new leviathan. Not only 
did other European states eventually follow the Venetian lead, but also the 
Venetians applied the diplomatic forms that they mastered in Ottoman 
domains first to their relations with other Italian states and subsequently 
to the rest of Europe. These archetypes proved vital in the development 
of early modern diplomacy. 

The structure of Ottoman society also evolved as the empire drove 
deeper into Europe and adapted itself to the acquisition of millions 
of Christian and Jewish subjects and the arrival of thousands of visi- 
tors from Europe. Ottoman accommodation considerably facilitated eco- 
nomic, diplomatic, religious, and even civilizational couplings. Indeed, 
an important element in Ottoman expansion was the state and society's 
ability to learn from European civilizations and adapt to European mores. 
It was as much a reflection of Ottoman flexibility as western European 
inquisitiveness that the frontiers between the Christian and Islamic 
civilizations began to break down during the Ottoman classical age, long 
before Western imperialism forced the issue. Not that the ideological 
walls were crumbling. Not only did these remain as a barrier between 
East and West, but also new ones were raised within Europe itself as 
in the sixteenth century the Christian ecumene shattered. Rather, reli- 
gious faith itself was ebbing as a primary societal identifier, to be replaced 
by other constructs in which the Ottomans could more comfortably, if 
eventually quite negatively, be situated. 

In part it was Ottoman elasticity that allowed the empire to insert 
itself into the European world of the sixteenth and seventeenth century. 
The government was fully aware that it no longer could dictate its place 
in the early modern European world order, and that it more and more 
had to bargain with equal or even more powerful states. The causes for 

232 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

this transformation may have been partially internal. In the late sixteenth 
century, the Ottoman state simultaneously became more bureaucratized 
and less centralized. The result was a diffusion of power that complicated 
the ability of the sultan's government to control and focus its military 
manpower. By the mid seventeenth century, the Ottomans found it diffi- 
cult to defeat even the Venetians, much less the Habsburgs or the Safavids. 
Negotiation and even concession more and more marked Ottoman policy 
in the state's relations with the rest of Europe. 

Nevertheless, changes in the balance of power in Europe also stimu- 
lated Ottoman integration. The fragmentation of first Italy and subse- 
quently the rest of Europe destroyed even the semblance of a Christian 
cohesion and replaced it with princes and despots who paid little more 
than lip service to the idea of a religious ecumene. Fast on the heels of this 
emergence of secular politics was the development of principles to serve 
it in the form of Protestantism, which accomplished ideologically what 
the Renaissance had done politically. By the seventeenth century, not 
only had non-Ottoman Europe become more able to accommodate reli- 
gious and political difference, but martial achievements by the Habsburg 
Empire, the Republic of Venice, and Dutch and English pirates against 
the Ottoman military machine had considerably reduced the rest of 
Europe's dread of this large domain. 

Furthermore, western Europe's geographic horizons were broadening 
at the very time that its fear of the Ottomans was receding. Whereas, 
in the fifteenth century, the states of the Mediterranean and Atlantic 
seaboards had concentrated their commerce and proselytizing on the 
East, by the sixteenth century the Americas constituted a tempting dis- 
traction, and by the middle of the seventeenth century the principal focus 
of Atlantic seaboard states had shifted across the western seas. In this 
light, Cromwell's decision in 1655 to send a fleet to the Caribbean rather 
than the Mediterranean marked a vital shift that has often been dated 
much earlier. 

In their studies of European expansion and imperialism, historians have 
tended to neglect the Middle East and concentrate on the Americas and 
East Asia. This emphasis, however, is in part the product of hindsight. 
Until the mid seventeenth century most western European societies con- 
tinued to bestow more money and manpower upon the Mediterranean 
world than upon either the Far West or the Far East. It is probable, for ex- 
ample, that in the early seventeenth century there were more Englishmen 
and Frenchmen settled in the Ottoman Empire than in the Americas, and 
that the Dutch, English, and French Levant companies generated more 
revenue than did their sister East Indies or American companies. From 
about this time, however, migration to and income from the Americas 

Conclusion 233 

accelerated, and revenue from Indian and Moluccan textiles and spices 
began to outstrip revenue from Mediterranean sources. 

Consequently, the Greater European World of the late seventeenth 
century took on a new shape. No longer were the Mediterranean seas at 
its center, no longer were the states of Europe focused upon the south- 
eastern margin of the landmass, and no longer was the Ottoman Empire 
a major player among them. Instead, Europe's hub had moved to the 
northwest, the gazes of its most powerful states had become fixed upon 
the Americas and East Asia, and the Ottoman Empire had become a 
second-tier power among them. By the mid seventeenth century, this 
Islamic state was no longer feared (although a few admired its social and 
religious variety). Instead, it was regarded as one among many polities. 
The empire again was to become a threat to the rest of Europe in the 
modern era, but the peril then would come less from strength than from 
weakness. Whereas one of the great concerns of early modern Europe 
had been how to comprehend, contain, borrow from, and incorporate 
an always grand, constantly transforming, and sometimes aggressive 
Ottoman polity, the "Eastern Question" of the eighteenth and nineteenth 
centuries swirled around a different issue: whether and how to shore up 
this same entity. Ultimately, it was allowed agonizingly and ignobly to fall 
to pieces. 

In the period between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, then, the 
Ottoman Empire existed briefly as a full and active member of a concert of 
European states. Nevertheless, it did not, as it probably could not, follow 
a course parallel to the emerging imperial powers of the modern world. In 
the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Britain, France, and Prussia led 
in developing the political, economic, and social institutions that would 
engender the modern nation state; neither Venice, the Habsburgs, the 
Ottomans, nor any other Mediterranean power succeeded in effectively 
following their leads. The Ottomans in particular faced many obstacles 
to the processes of modernization, democratization, constitutional self- 
governance, centralization, and industrialization that characterized the 
rise of the European nation states and produced in them feelings of 
societal commonality and citizenship. France, for example, learned to 
construct an identity for many (but not all) of its people based upon a 
sense of shared language, shared religion, shared government, shared his- 
tory, and shared borders. By 1800, most inhabitants of France saw their 
Frenchness as the essence of their identities. The peoples of the Ottoman 
Empire, however, never developed a comparable Ottoman identity. They 
spoke a plethora of languages; they espoused several religions; their sense 
of governance was diffused not only by patriarchal and rabbinic author- 
ity and power but also by French, Russian, and British determination 

234 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe 

to regulate Ottoman treatment of Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant 
Ottoman subjects; their sense of past was utterly diverse; and their bor- 
ders were more and more blurred and malleable because of the insistence 
of foreign powers on commercial, political, and missionary access. Such 
manifold barriers to the creation of a national identity proved too many 
to overcome. The empire in the eighteenth century became a second- 
tier power. By the nineteenth century, many statesmen considered it no 
power at all, but merely a potential problem. 

Perhaps even more indicative of the empire's tumble than the Western- 
inspired political and social reorganization upon which the Ottoman gov- 
ernment embarked especially after 1839, was the Anglo-Ottoman 
Commercial Convention of 1838. This agreement not only declared 
that "all rights, privileges, and immunities which have been conferred on 
the subjects or ships of Great Britain by the existing Capitulations and 
Treaties, are confirmed now and for ever," but also stipulated that "the 
subjects of Her Britannic Majesty, or their agents, shall be permitted to 
purchase at all places in the Ottoman Dominions ... all articles, without 
any exception whatsoever."' This accord stripped the Ottoman govern- 
ment of control over the movement of goods across its own borders and 
granted British traders free access to Ottoman products and Ottoman 
markets. In other words, it provided a legal framework for British eco- 
nomic imperialism, deprived the Ottomans of economic autonomy and 
thereby detached the empire from the European concert of nations, and, 
at least in the opinion of many, not only turned it into a British depen- 
dency but also made it a target for colonization. One Englishman writing 
in 1887 could dream of a future in which "the vast plains and fertile slopes 
[of western Anatolia] shall have become tenanted by an improving race of 
scientific farmers [he had in mind Scotsmen] unprejudiced by the agri- 
cultural legends and superstitions of past ages [he had in mind Turks] ."^ 
Such comments emphasize that, by the mid nineteenth century, early 
modern European attitudes of both dread toward and appreciation of the 
Ottoman Empire had been thoroughly undermined and transformed. 

' In Charles Issawi (ed.). The economic history of the Middle East, 1800-1914: a book of 

readings (Chicago, 1982), p. 39. 
^ William Cochran, Pen and pencil (London, 1887), p. 211. 


This glossary includes those Ottoman Turkish words that occur more 
than once in the text. They alone are italicized. 

abode of Islam: lands controlled by Islamic governments 
abode of the Covenant: lands ruled by non-Islamic governments, 

but paying tribute to Islamic states 
abode of war: lands controlled by non-Islamic governments 
alum: metal used as a clarifier or purifier in various trades, es- 
pecially in the tanning industry; important in early modern 

Mediterranean commerce 
apostasy: repudiation of a faith, usually to embrace another 
Ashkenazim: German Jews; that community of Jews whose 

vernacular and customs reflected centuries of settlement in 

German lands 
askeri: Ottoman ruling elite, administrative, military, and 

bailo: envoy or ambassador; often specifically referring to a 

Venetian or Dubrovnikan representative in Istanbul 
bertone: sailing ship of a type developed in the early modern 

period and used especially by Atlantic seaboard states 
bey: honorific title; Ottoman military commander 
bostanci: member of the imperial guards, powerful particularly in 

the city of Istanbul 
cacophony: many dissonant voices or viewpoints 
cadastral survey: measurement of land for purposes of taxation 

and, in the Ottoman case, for division among the Ottoman 

sipahi (q.v.) 
caique: small, oared vessel used to transport people or goods over 

short distances 
caliph: successor to the Prophet Muhammed; often titular ruler 

over the community of Muslims 


236 Glossary 

capitulations: commercial agreements, usually between the 
Ottomans and foreign governments 

catechism: a book summarizing the essentials of a particular faith 

gavuf. an Ottoman pursuivant or messenger, often granted ex- 
traordinary authority on a particular issue 

cizye: annual head tax taken from non-Muslim subjects in an 
Islamic state 

concubine: woman living with a man without being married; fe- 
male slave in an imperial or wealthy household 

converso: a convert; often refers to a reluctant convert in Iberia 
during and after the Christian reconquest 

corvee: forced labor as a form of taxation; usually associated with 

damad: husband of an imperial Ottoman princess; son-in-law 

dev§irme: method by which usually Christian Ottoman boys were 
"tithed" into imperial service 

diaspora: scattering from its historical location of a religious or 
ethnic group 

Doge: elected leader of government in Venice 

dragoman: translator and interpreter in the Ottoman Empire 

ducat: a gold coin; formerly were several types including the 
Venetian and the Spanish 

ecumene: region where the principal faith claims universality 

emir: ruler of a small state; prince or governor in the Middle 

entrepot: place, usually a city, where goods are exchanged and 

eschatological: concerned with last things, such as death or the 
end of the world 

Eurocentrism: belief in the political, economic, and intellectual 
superiority of European civilization 

exogamy: marriage outside of a particular family, society, or 

extraterritoriality: exemption from legal jurisdiction; right to live 
in a foreign land according to one's own laws 

fetva: a written opinion by a religious authority in Islam 

fondaco: place in a Mediterranean port city where an alien com- 
munity, usually of merchants, lives and trades 

Franks: term for western Europeans in the Islamic Middle East; 
associated with crusading and other armies 

fratricide: killing one's siblings 

gaza: warfare on behalf of Islam 

gazi: a Muslim warrior who is fighting for his faith 

Glossary 237 

grand vizier: most important imperial minister of state in the 

early modern Ottoman world 
hajj: pilgrimage, usually to Mecca; one of the five "pillars" of 

harem: area of house reserved for the family; sultan's household 
Hasidim: sect of Jewish mystics founded in eighteenth-century 

hegemony: situation in which one state dominates over others 
heterodoxy: having religious beliefs that a particular faith does 

not accept as orthodox 
hierocracy: government by a clergy or religious elite 
hinterland: lands contiguous to a town or city, from which it 

draws its food 
historiography: historical literature and its interpretation 
imam: prayer leader in Islam, often in an official or governmental 

post; successor to Muhammed in Shi'ism (q.v.) 
inquisition: Catholic tribunal authorized and instructed to ferret 

out heresy 
Interregnum: period between monarchs, often of turmoil 
isthmus: a sliver of land connecting two larger land masses 
janissary corps: Ottoman infantry army, consisting at first of the 

sultan's slaves or servants and subsequently more generally 

kadi: religious judge or municipal commissioner in Islamic states 
kadizadeli: member of an Islamic reformist movement in the 

seventeenth-century Ottoman Empire 
kanun: sultanic law, in the Ottoman Empire used to complement 

and at times replace Islamic law 
kapikulu: anyone who is a servant of the sultan 
kapudanpa§a: Commander of the Ottoman fieet; member of the 

imperial divan 
Karaite: Jewish sect that accepts only the Torah as religious law 

and repudiates all Talmudic commentaries 
khan: an often fortified resting place for merchants and other 

Latin: the Catholic church, especially in contrast to the Greek 

Orthodox church 
latitudinarianism: favoring freedom of thought; act of pushing 

the limits of religious orthodoxy 
Levant: Syrian or eastern-Mediterranean coastal regions 
lingua franca: hybrid language, principally Italian but mixing 

other languages and used for communication in the early mod- 
ern eastern Mediterranean 

238 Glossary 

Lurianic Kabbalah: form of Jewish mysticism formulated by 
Isaac Luria and popularized in the seventeenth century 

marrano: Spanish-Jewish convert to Catholicism; derogatory 
term for a crypto-Jew 

Maskalim: Jewish intellectuals who carried the ideas of the En- 
lightenment to eastern Europe in the nineteenth century 

medrese: Islamic religious school 

millet: a non-Muslim community in the Ottoman Empire; before 
the nineteenth century, the term was used loosely 

monotheism: belief in a single God; usually refers to Judaism, 
Christianity, and Islam 

oligarchy: rule by a few, a faction, or a small group of families 

Orientalism: the idea that Western scholars long have studied 
and constructed the East or "Orient" in Western terms and 
using Western models to maintain Western hegemony 

Ottomancentrism: viewing the world from the perspective of the 
Ottoman state, society, interests, and history 

padishah: monarch; sultan 

pasha: military commander; Ottoman high statesman 

pastoralist: herdsman, especially of sheep 

patois: particular language of a special class or region; substan- 
dard speech 

Patriarch: spiritual and political leader in the Greek Orthodox, 
Armenian, and other eastern Christian religions 

pax ottomanica: "Ottoman peace"; region under Ottoman con- 
trol within which commerce and travel were relatively secure 

Phanariot: group of Greek Orthodox Ottomans associated with 
the district in Istanbul known as Fener; rose to economic and 
political prominence in the eighteenth century 

polygyny: the taking of more than one wife at once 

primogeniture: system by which the firstborn child (usually son) 
inherits wealth and/or status 

proselytization: conversion, or endeavor to convince others to 
convert to one's faith 

reaya: flock; subjects of the Ottoman Empire who are not part of 
the ruling elite 

Romaniot: that part of the Ottoman-Jewish community whose 
ancestors had lived in the Byzantine Empire 

Sephardim: Spanish Jews; Jews involved in the Iberian diaspora 
(q.v.) of the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries 

Serenissima: the state of Venice 

Glossary 239 

§eyhulislam: highest religious functionary in the Ottoman state; 
a political appointment whose possessor sat on the Imperial 

shamanism: religion in which good and evil spirits are believed 
to infuse nature and can be called upon by priests 

shariah: Islamic law; usually based in the Qur'an, the pronounce- 
ments of Muhammed (hadith), and the mores of the commu- 
nity of believers during Muhammed's lifetime (umma) 

shaykh: a religious leader, often associated with Sufism (q.v.) 

Shi'ism: branch of Islamic belief, considered heretical by the 
Ottomans, that believed that blood descendants of Muha- 
mmed should lead the community of Muslims 

signory: group of signers who constituted the Venetian govern- 

sipahi: an Ottoman cavalryman and provincial administrator 

Sublime Porte: Ottoman government; associated with the grand 
vizier (q.v.) and his bureaucracy 

suet: animal fat used in cooking and making tallow for candles 

Sufism: Islamic mysticism; many versions usually associated with 
particular holy men 

sumptuary: restricting personal behavior or dress in accordance 
with religious or moral codes 

Sunnism: leading branch of Islamic belief, espoused by the 
Ottoman state; often juxtaposed with Shi'ism (q.v.) 

syncretism: combination into new forms of differing systems of 
belief or customs 

taife: any group or community 

tekke: Sufi house of worship and communal gathering place 

Templars: a militant crusading order founded in twelfth-century 

theosophy: religious philosophy based upon mystical insight 

Turkoman: nomadic peoples from Central Asia and speaking a 
Turkic language 

ulema: masters of Islamic jurisprudence 

unigeniture: system by which a single child (usually son) inherits 
wealth and/or status 

valide sultan: mother of the Ottoman sultan; often a towering po- 
litical presence in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries 

vizier: Ottoman statesman, especially one with a seat on the Im- 
perial Divan 

zimmi: non-Muslim subject in an Islamic polity 

Suggestions for further reading 

Although this book's notes occasionally employ non-English-language 
texts, the works cited below are limited to the English language. My 
decision to do so does not disavow the richness of French, German, 
Italian, or especially Turkish literature. The selection rather is based upon 
the question of audience and constitutes a suggestion that the exclusion 
of the Ottoman Empire from European history is as much ideological as 
linguistic or because of a lack of accessible materials. The exhaustive body 
of English-language texts enables the interested historian to incorporate 
this empire fully into the Greater European World. 


The most important reference work for Ottoman terms remains The 
encyclopaedia of Islam, new edn (Leiden, I960-), which is now available 
in an excellent CD-Rom edition. Entries that the reader may find partic- 
ularly useful include "ghulam," "Imtiyazat," "Istanbul," and "Maktu'^." 
There are several English-language surveys of early modern Ottoman 
history. The most thorough and reliable remains Halil Inalcik, The 
Ottoman Empire: the classical age, 1300-1600, trans. Norman Itzkowitz 
and Colin Imber (London, 1973). A briefer introduction that covers 
much the same ground is Norman Itzkowitz, Ottoman Empire and Islamic 
tradition (Chicago, 1972). Justin McCarthy also offers a readable survey 
that perhaps over-stresses the Turkishness of the Ottomans in The 
Ottoman Turks: an introductory history to 1923 (Harlow, Essex, 1997). 
Its lack of notes and bibliography also limits its value. The advanced 
student might profitably consult the exhaustive state-of-the-profession 
survey by Halil Inalcik with Donald Quataert, An economic and social 
history of the Ottoman Empire, 1300-1914 (Cambridge, 1994). Suraiya 
Faroqhi presents a fascinating look at Ottoman society and its material 
bases in Subjects of the sultan: culture and daily life in the Ottoman 
Empire (London, 2000). A text that, while focusing on the late empire 


Suggestions for further reading 24 1 

also includes concise summary chapters on the early modern Ottoman 
world, is Donald Quataert, The Ottoman Empire, 1700-1922 (Cambridge, 

On the specific problem of the Ottoman Empire's connection to 
Europe, see Paul Coles, The Ottoman impact on Europe (New York, 1968), 
which is limited because of its view of the empire as a parasite. Cemal 
Kafadar, "The Ottomans and Europe," in Handbook of European history, 
1400-1600, Vol. I: Structures and assertions, ed. Thomas A Brady, Jr., 
Heiko A. Oberman, and James D. Tracy (Grand Rapids, MI, 1994), 
pp. 589—635, constitutes an extended abstract toward a more balanced 
treatment. Andrew Wheatcroft, The Ottomans: dissolving images (New 
York, 1993) is intriguing, but idiosyncratic and not always reliable. 
The highly popular Jason Goodwin, Lords of the horizons: a history of the 
Ottoman Empire (London, 1 998) is entertaining, but problematic because 
of inaccuracies and flights of fancy. Those interested in the Ottoman 
legacy to the Middle East and the Balkans should turn to L. Carl Brown 
(ed.). Imperial legacy: the Ottoman imprint on the Balkans and the Middle 
£a^r (New York, 1996). 

There are several "framing" texts that, while not specifically about the 
Ottomans, are theoretically and conceptually essential. Donald Lach and 
Edwin Van Kley's multivolume Asia in the making of Europe (Chicago, 
1965-93) remains central for any study of how European expansion 
influenced Europe itself. Any examination of the ideological relationship 
between western Europe and the rest of the world must begin with 
Edward Said, Orientalism (New York, 1978). A good complement to 
this study is Thierry Hentsch, Imagining the Middle East, trans. Fred A. 
Reed (Montreal, 1992), which traces the specific concepts of Islam and 
the Middle East from the ancient through the modern European worlds. 
Anglo-Indian relations are particularly well studied by both historians 
and literary critics, on which see Jyotsna G. Singh, Colonial narratives, 
cultural dialogues: "discoveries" of India in the languages of colonialism 
(London and New York, 1996). For a study that persuasively explores 
the influence of gender roles in both Islamic and Christian societies, 
see Carol L. Delaney, Abraham on trial (Princeton, 1998). An entire 
issue oi Past and Present (137 [1992]) is devoted to an attempt to define 
how Europe has been envisioned historically. The specific Ottoman case 
is presented in M. E. Yapp, "Europe in the Turkish mirror," Past and 
Present 137(1992): 134—55. The theoretical construct of nations and 
nationalisms, which has so obscured Ottoman history, is ably thrashed 
out in Benedict Anderson, Imagined communities: reflections on the origin 
and spread of nationalism (London, 1983). 

242 Suggestions for further reading 


The student of Ottoman beginnings should read Cemal Kafadar, Between 
two worlds: the construction of the Ottoman state (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 
1995), which, while largely expository, not only lays out and elegantly 
critiques both Ottoman and modern theses of Ottoman origins, but also 
presents a middle-ground thesis of its own. A good discussion of the reli- 
gious diversity that fed into Ottoman beginnings is Ahmet Karamustafa, 
God's unruly friends: dervish groups in the Islamic later middle period, 1200— 
1550 (Salt Lake City, 1994). Some of the works that have contributed to 
our understanding of (and confusions about) the early Ottoman world 
are Herbert A. Gibbons, The foundation of the Ottoman Empire (Oxford, 
1916); Fuat M. Kopriilii, The origins of the Ottoman Empire, trans, and 
ed. Gary Leiser (Albany, NY, 1992); Paul Wittek, The rise of the Ottoman 
Empire (London, 1938); and Rudi P. Lindner, Nomads and Ottomans in 
medieval Anatolia (Bloomington, IN, 1983). A revealing critique of both 
Wittek's writings and the historiography of this topic is Colin Heywood, 
"Wittek and the Austrian tradition," Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 
(1988): 7-25. Colin Imber presents a strong summary of Ottoman imag- 
inings of the past in "Ideals and legitimation in early Ottoman history," 
in Siileyman the Magnificent and his age: the Ottoman Empire in the early 
modern world, ed. Metin Kunt and Christine Woodhead (Harlow, 1995), 
pp. 138-53. 

Colin Heywood examines the idea of an Ottoman frontier in "The 
frontier in Ottoman history: old ideas and new myths," in Frontiers in 
question: Eurasian borderlands, 700-1700, ed. Daniel Power and Naomi 
Standen (London, 1999), pp. 228—50. He does not, however, consider 
the valuable writings on the American frontier that post-date Frederick 
Jackson Turner, such as Richard White, The middle ground: Indians, em- 
pires, and republics in the Great Lakes region, 1650—1815 (Cambridge, 
1989), which examines the idea of frontiers as "middle grounds." For 
the specific frontier created by the Crusades in Syria as a model for the 
Byzantine/Turkoman frontier in Anatolia, see Amin Maalouf 's ingenious 
The Crusades through Arab eyes (New York, 1984) and Tariq All's fic- 
tionalized diary by a Jewish scribe, The book of Saladin: a novel (New 
York, 1999). An important source for such treatments is Usamah Ibn- 
Munidh, An Arab-Syrian gentleman and warrior in the period of the Cru- 
sades, trans. Philip K. Hitti (Princeton, 1987). On the specific Anatolian 
background to Ottoman expansion, see Speros Vryonis, The decline of 
medieval Hellenism in Asia Minor and the process of Islamization from the 
eleventh through the fifteenth century (Berkeley, 1971). Also useful if dated 
on this topic is Fuat M. Koprulii, Islam in Anatolia after the Turkish invasion 

Suggestions for further reading 243 

(Prolegomena), trans. Gary Leiser (Salt Lake City, 1994). The specific 
case of the roots of the Ottoman sultanate is discussed in Halil Inalcik, 
"The Ottoman succession and its relation to the Turkish concept of 
sovereignty," in The Middle East and the Balkans under the Ottoman Empire: 
essays on economy and society (Bloomington, IN, 1993), pp. 37-69. 


There are several studies of European perceptions of the early modern 
Ottomans. Among the most important are Clarence Rouillard, The Turk 
in French history, thought and literature (1520—1660) (Paris, 1938), and 
Robert Schwoebel, The shadow of the crescent: the Renaissance image of the 
Turk, 1453-1517 (Nieuwkoop, 1967). Three recent discussions of Eu- 
ropean attitudes toward the "Turk" are Lucette Valensi, The birth of the 
despot: Venice and the Sublime Porte, trans. Arthur Denner (Ithaca, NY 
and London, 1993); Christine Woodhead, "'The present terrour of the 
world?' Contemporary views of the Ottoman Empire c. 1600," History 
72(1987): 20-37; and Ash (^irakman, "From tyranny to despotism: the 
Enlightenment's unenlightened image of the Turks," International Jour- 
nal of Middle East Studies 33.1(2000): 49-68. Bernard Lewis attempts to 
reverse these views, looking at how the Islamic world imagined the west- 
ern European one, in The Muslim discovery of Europe (New York, 1982). 
Martin Luther's "On war against the Turk, 1528," in Luther's works, 
Vol. XLVI, The Christian in society. III (Philadelphia, 1967), pp. 155- 
205, is perhaps the most accessible of the many early modern religious 
pamphlets written in Christian Europe about and against the Ottoman 
Empire. The most essential positive treatment of the Ottoman polity is 
interspersed throughout Jean Bodin, The six bookes of a commonweale, 
ed. Kenneth Douglas McRae (Cambridge, 1962). There has been much 
written on Christian Europe's understanding of the Ottoman world. The 
thoroughness with which the Ottomans knew Christian Europe remains 
open to debate. Three studies that attack this question from very differ- 
ent angles are Thomas Goodrich's The Ottoman Turks and the new world 
(Wiesbaden, 1990); the novelist Roderick Conway Morris's Jem: mem- 
oirs of an Ottoman secret agent (New York, 1988); and Virginia Aksan's 
An Ottoman statesman in war and peace: Ahmed Resmi Efendi, 1700—1783 
(Leiden, 1995). 

There is now an excellent study of Ottoman methods of warfare: 
Rhoads Murphey, Ottoman warfare, 1500-1800 (Rutgers, NY, 1999). 
Caroline Finkel examines a particular campaign in The administration of 
warfare: the Ottoman military campaigns in Hungary, 1593—1606 (Vienna, 
1987). The classic study on the process of Ottoman conquest and 

244 Suggestions for further reading 

integration is Halil Inalcik, "Ottoman methods of conquest," Studia 
Islamica 2(1954): 112-22. A specific example of the process is the same 
author's "Ottoman policy and administration in Cyprus after the con- 
quest," reprinted in The Ottoman Empire, conquest, organization and econ- 
omy (London, 1978), article 8. For the specific case of Istanbul, see 
Steven Runciman, The fall of Constantinople, 1453 (Cambridge, 1991); 
and Halil Inalcik, "The policy of Mehmed II toward the Greek popu- 
lation of Istanbul and the Byzantine buildings of the city," Dumbarton 
Oaks Papers 23(1970): 213-49. Extant Byzantine as well as Ottoman 
buildings are discussed in Hilary Sumner-Boyd and John Freely, Strolling 
through Istanbul (Istanbul, 1972). On Ottoman Istanbul there are several 
recent works. A popular treatment is John Freely, Istanbul: the imperial 
city (London, 1996). Somewhat more sophisticated but still quite acces- 
sible is Philip Mansel, Constantinople: city of the world's desire, 1453-1924 
(New York, 1995). Edhem Eldem, "Istanbul: from imperial to periph- 
eral capital," in The Ottoman city between East and West: Aleppo, Izmir, and 
Istanbul (Cambridge, 1999), is a stimulating and reliable survey of the 
city by a scholar comfortable with both Ottoman and western sources. 
On the social and political context of the sultan's palace itself, far and 
away the best study is Giilru Necipoglu, Architecture, ceremonial and power: 
the Topkapi palace in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries (Cambridge, MA, 
1991). A delightful and gossipy if not always accurate text is Godfrey 
Goodwin, Topkapi palace: an illustrated guide to its life and personalities 
(London, 2000). 


The period of Siileyman's reign has received considerable attention. 
Metin Kunt and Christine Woodhead (eds.), Siileyman the Magnificent 
and his age: the Ottoman empire in the early modern world (Harlow, 1995) is 
filled with strong essays. Especially useful in this collection is Woodhead's 
"Perspectives on Siileyman," pp. 1 64-90. On Islamic and sultanic law, see 
Colin Imber, Ebu's-su'ud: the islamic legal tradition (Stanford, CA, 1997), 
and on the particular topic of Siileyman's contribution to the codification 
of Ottoman law, see Halil Inalcik, "Suleiman the lawgiver and Ottoman 
law," Archivum Ottomanicum 1(1969): 105-38. A fascinating study of 
this sultan's attempt to glorify himself in the context of the European 
world is Giilru Necipoglu, "Siileyman the Magnificent and the represen- 
tation of power in the context of Ottoman-Habsburg-Papal rivalry," Art 
Bulletin 71.3(1989): 401-27; and for his endeavor to do so through pub- 
lic buildings, see Aptullah Kuran, Sinan the Grand Old Master of Ottoman 

Suggestions for further reading 245 

architecture (Washington, DC and Istanbul, 1 987). A good introduction to 
Ottoman poetry is Walter Andrews, Poetry's voice, society's song: Ottoman 
lyric poetry (Seattle, WA, 1985)j many translations of such poetry are in 
Walter Andrews, et al., Ottoman lyric poetry: an anthology (Austin, TX, 

A revealing work on the sultan and his household is Leslie Peirce, The 
imperial harem: women and sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire (Oxford, 
1993). For a narrative of that period on gender relations in other elite 
households, see Evliya ^elebi. The intimate life of an Ottoman states- 
man: Melek Ahmed Pasha (1588-1661) , intro. and trans. Robert Dankoff, 
historical comm. Rhoads Murphey (Albany, NY, 1991). On elite ca- 
reers, see in general I. Metin Kunt, "Ethnic-regional (cins) solidarity in 
the seventeenth-century Ottoman establishment," International Journal of 
Middle East Studies 5(1974): 233—39; and, for a particular case, Cornell 
H. Fleischer, Bureaucrat and intellectual in the Ottoman Empire: the his- 
torian Mustafa An (1541-1600) (Princeton, NJ, 1986). The early chap- 
ters of Ehud R. Toledano, Slavery and abolition in the Ottoman Middle 
East (Seattle, WA, 1998) constitute a concise introduction to Ottoman 
slavery. A thorough discussion of the end to Ottoman slavery is Y. Hakan 
Erdem, Slavery in the Ottoman Empire and its demise (Oxford, 1997). 

The seventeenth-century crisis, and especially its social aspects, has 
received much attention in recent years. An organizing model that may 
apply to Ottoman decentralization is presented in Frederic C. Lane, 
"The economic consequences of organized violence," Journal of Eco- 
nomic History 18(1958): 401-17. Suraiya Faroqhi's "Crisis and change, 
1590—1699," in An economic and social history of the Ottoman Empire, 
1300-1914, ed. Halil Inalcik, with Donald Quataert (Cambridge, 1994), 
pp. 411—636, is a good place to start for the Ottoman case. This sum- 
mation should be complemented by Halil Inalcik, "Military and fiscal 
transformation in the Ottoman Empire, 1 600-1 700," Archivum Ottoman- 
icum 6(1980): 283—337; the many articles by Ronald Jennings, particu- 
larly his "Urban population in Anatolia in the sixteenth century: a study 
of Kayseri, Karaman, Amasya, Trabzon, and Erzerum," International 
Journal of Middle East Studies 7(1976): 229-58; and his "Kadi, court 
and legal procedure in seventeenth-century Ottoman Kayseri," Studia 
Islamica 48(1978): 133-72; §evket Pamuk, "The price revolution in 
the Ottoman Empire reconsidered," International Journal of Middle East 
Studies 33.1(2001): 68-89; as well as Suraiya Faroqhi's Towns and towns- 
men of Ottoman Anatolia: trade, crafts and food production in an urban setting, 
1520-1650 (Cambridge, 1984). A sociological model that links provincial 
unrest and the state apparatus is Karen Barkey, Bandits and bureaucrats: 
the Ottoman route to state centralization (Ithaca, NY and London, 1994). 

246 Suggestions for further reading 

A study of society and commerce in a particular city is Daniel Goffman, 
Izmir and the Levantine world, 1550-1650 (Seattle, WA, 1990); religious 
unrest is covered in Madeline C. Zilfi, The politics of piety: the Ottoman 
ulema in the postclassical age (1600-1800) (Minneapolis, 1988). Financial 
innovations, with profound implications for the earlier periods, are per- 
suasively analyzed in Ariel Salzmann, "An ancien regime revisited: privati- 
zation and political economy in the eighteenth century Ottoman Empire," 
Politics and Society 21.4(1993): 393-423. A fascinating examination of 
the ideas of "distance" and "travel" in the early modern Ottoman world 
is Kurt W. Treptow, "Distance and communications in southeastern 
Europe, \593-\(i\2r East European Quarterly 24.4(1991): 475-82. 

There are several strong critiques of the Ottoman decline paradigm. 
One that focuses on Ottoman observers is Douglas Howard, "Ottoman 
historiography and the literature of 'decline' of the sixteenth and sev- 
enteenth centuries," Journal of Asian History 22(1988): 52-11 . A second 
that highlights the Ottoman bureaucracy and treasury is Linda T. Darling, 
Revenue raising and legitimacy: tax collection and finance administration in 
the Ottoman Empire, 1560-1660 (Leiden and New York, 1996). A concise 
summary and critique of the debate, which does not do away with the 
concept entirely but argues that decline set in much later than usually 
presumed, is in Quataert, Ottoman Empire. 


One should begin a study of the sixteenth-century Mediterranean seas 
with Fernand Braudel's sweeping and still stimulating The Mediterranean 
and the Mediterranean world in the age of Philip II, trans. Sian Reynolds, 
2 vols. (New York, 1972). A definitive work on Byzantine-Venetian re- 
lations is Donald M. Nicol, Byzantium and Venice: a study in diplomatic 
and cultural relations (Cambridge, 1 988). Kenneth M. Setton, meanwhile, 
thoroughly studies relations between the papacy and the Ottomans in 
his The papacy and the Levant (1204-1571), 4 vols. (Philadelphia, 1974). 
General studies on Venice include Frederic C. Lane, Venice: a maritime re- 
public (Baltimore, 1973), which remains the best English-language survey 
of Venetian history; while William H. McNeill, Venice: the hinge of Europe, 
1081-1797 (Chicago and London, 1974), is an impressive attempt to 
show Venice as a great disseminator of ideas. One may complement Venice 
with William H. McNeill's companion volume, Europe's steppe frontier, 
1500-1800 (Chicago and London, 1964), and, less engagingly but more 
from the Ottoman perspective, C. Max Kortepeter, Ottoman imperial- 
ism during the Reformation: Europe and the Caucasus (New York, 1972). 

Suggestions for further reading 247 

Andrew C. Hess persuasively and with poise examines the far western 
Ottoman borders in The forgotten frontier: a history of the sixteenth-century 
Ibero-African frontier (Chicago and London, 1978)j Palmira Brummett, 
Ottoman seapower and Levantine diplomacy in the Age of Discovery (Albany, 
NY, 1994) imaginatively examines Venetian-Ottoman-Mamluk-Safavid 
relations at a specific point in time; and John Francis Guilmartin, Jr., Gun- 
powder and galleys: changing technology and Mediterranean warfare at sea in 
the sixteenth century (Cambridge, 1974), persuasively and significantly lib- 
erates the early modern Mediterranean world from the Mahanian model 
of naval warfare. The commercial impact of the Portuguese movement 
into Asia is traced in Niels Steensgaard, The Asian trade revolution of the 
seventeenth century (Chicago, 1974); the specific Ottoman— Portuguese 
confrontation in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean is dealt with in Salih 
Ozbaran, "Ottoman naval policy in the south," in Stileyman the Magnifi- 
cent,^^. 55-70; and the pivotal naval battle atLepanto is lucidly studied in 
Andrew C. Hess, "The Battle of Lepanto and its place in Mediterranean 
history," Past and Present 57(1972): 53-73. 

Two charming and eloquent, if profoundly orientalist, introductions, 
especially to the topography of Venice and its empire, are Jan Morris, 
The world of Venice (Orlando, FLA, 1993), and her The Venetian Empire: 
a sea voyage (London, 1990). On Venetian Cyprus, the classic study re- 
mains Sir George Hill, A history of Cyprus, Vol. IIL The Prankish period, 
1432-1571 (Cambridge, 1948), but one must balance this account with 
Halil Inalcik, "Ottoman policy and administration in Cyprus after the 
conquest," in The Ottoman Empire: conquest, organization and economy 
(London, 1978), article 8. Ronald C. Jennings, Christians and Muslims 
in Ottoman Cyprus and the Mediterranean world, 1571—1640 (New York, 
1993), studies early Ottoman Cyprus. Seventeenth-century Habsburg- 
Ottoman-Venetian relations, with exhaustive attention given to war over 
Crete, are thoroughly and carefully examined in Kenneth Setton, Venice, 
Austria, and the Turks in the seventeenth century (Philadelphia, 1991). The 
consequences of the Ottoman-Venetian Cretan War, with particular at- 
tention to the Catholic - Greek Orthodox — Muslim nexus, is the topic of 
Molly Greene, A shared world: Christians and Muslims in the early modern 
Mediterranean (Princeton, 2000). The best study of Ottoman economic 
policy and its influence on the Mediterranean world remains Halil Inalcik, 
"Capital formation in the Ottoman Empire," Journal of Economic History 
19(1969): 97-140. 

Piracy played a consequential role in inter-societal relations in the 
Mediterranean basin, as Peter Lamborn Wilson, Pirate Utopias: Moorish 
corsairs and European renegadoes (Brooklyn, NY, 1995) argues. Several 
fine books exist on this subject, including Alberto Tenenti, Piracy and the 

248 Suggestions for further reading 

decline of Venice, 1580-1615, trans. Janet Pullan and Brian Pullan (Berkeley 
and Los Angeles, 1967); Catherine Wendy Bracewell, The Uskoks of 
Sen] : piracy, banditry, and holy war in the sixteenth-century Adriatic (Ithaca, 
NY, 1992); and C. Lloyd, English corsairs on the Barbary coast (London, 

On the early modern Mediterranean world as a cultural middle ground 
that rivaled the American colonies, see Nabil Matar's important and 
provocative Turks, Moors, and Englishmen in the Age of Discovery (New 
York, 1999). An account of the early English presence in the empire, 
which includes many of the most important sources on that settlement, is 
Susan A. Skilliter, William Harborne and the trade with Turkey, 1578—1582: 
a documentary study of the first Anglo-Ottoman relations (London, 1977). 
A. H. de Groot, The Ottoman Empire and the Dutch Republic: a history of 
the earliest diplomatic relations, 1610-1630 (Leiden, 1978), accomplishes 
much the same thing for the Dutch case. A comparative study of the role 
of Ottoman cities in the Mediterranean world is Edhem Eldem, Daniel 
Goffman, and Bruce Masters, The Ottoman city between East and West: 
Aleppo, Izmir, and Istanbul (Cambridge, 1 999), and a case study is Bruce 
Masters, The origins of western economic dominance in the Middle East: mer- 
cantilism and the Islamic economy in Aleppo, 1600—1750 (New York, 1988). 


On political formations that linked the Ottoman Empire to the rest of 
Europe, see, for Dubrovnik, Francis W. Carter, Dubrovnik (Ragusa): a 
classic city-state (London, 1972); and, for Chios, Philip P. Argenti, Chius 
Vincta or the occupation of Chios by the Turks (1566) and their adminis- 
tration of the island (1566-1912) (Cambridge, 1941). Philip D. Curtin, 
Cross-cultural trade in world history (Cambridge, 1984), eloquently frames 
the study of Armenian, western European, and other communal trading 
networks. The fundamental work for the specific case of Jews in com- 
merce in the Islamic world is S. D. Goitein, Mediterranean society: an 
abridgment in one volume, ed. Jacob Lassner (Berkeley, CA, 2000); but 
see also Amitav Ghosh, In an antique land: history in the guise of a traveler's 
tale (New York, 1992), for a stimulating if eccentric treatment. 

The most thorough treatment of non-Muslim groups in the Ottoman 
world, including several provocative articles on the millet system, is 
Benjamin Braude and Bernard Lewis (eds.), Christians and Jews in the 
Ottoman Empire, 2 vols. (New York, 1982). One may supplement this 
work with Michael Ursinus, "Millet," Encyclopedia of Islam, 2nd edn 
(Leiden: Brill, 1962- ); and Daniel Goffman, "Ottoman millets in the 
early seventeenth century," New Perspectives on Turkey 1 1 (1 994): 135-58. 

Suggestions for further reading 249 

On the tangled question of Jewish relations with hegemonic religions, 
both Christian and Muslim, Mark R. Cohen, Under crescent and cross: 
the Jews in the middle ages (Princeton, 1994), is responsible and read- 
able, while the most accessible works on the specific Ottoman case are 
Bernard Lewis, The Jews of Islam (Princeton, 1984); and Avigdor Levy, 
The Sephardim in the Ottoman Empire (Princeton, 1992). An inspiring 
case study of Mediterranean commerce is Benjamin Arbel, Trading na- 
tions: Jews and Venetians in the early modern eastern Mediterranean (Leiden, 
1995); much of the raw data for my imagined biography of Kubad (^avu§, 
pieces of which preface each chapter of this book, derives from Arbel's 
work. For an examination of an Ottoman settlement in a Christian city, 
see Cemal Kafadar, "A death in Venice (1575): Anatolian Muslim mer- 
chants trading in the Serenissima," Journal of Turkish Studies 10(1986): 

The case of the Ottoman Balkans remains shadowy, but has received 
some attention in recent years. Its history has been particularly prey to 
the subjective ruminations of nationalist agendas. Two good corrective 
essays for the Yugoslavian region in particular are Mark Pinson (ed.). The 
Muslims of Bosnia-Herzegovina: their historic development from the middle 
ages to the dissolution of Yugoslavia (Cambridge, MA, 1993); and Robert 
Donia and John Fine, Bosnia and Hercegovina (New York, 1995). 


Despite recent attention to the Ottoman place in the "world economy," 
surprisingly little has been done to examine the alien in early modern 
Ottoman society. This lacuna derives in large part from the historiogra- 
phy's persistent Eurocentric thrust. Volumes such as Alfred Wood, The 
history of the Levant Company (Cambridge, 1935), and Sonia Anderson, 
An English consul in Turkey: Paul Rye aut at Smyrna, 1667—1678 (Oxford, 
1989), both of which ably and exhaustively discuss western Europeans 
in Ottoman domains, do so almost exclusively from a western European 
perspective and through English sources. Garrett Mattingly, Renaissance 
diplomacy (Boston, 1955), is another good example of Eurocentric par- 
tiality. This classic text traces the rise of modern diplomacy exclusively 
through Italy and Christian nation states. Niels Steensgaard has done 
much to ascertain the administrative structure of foreign merchant com- 
munities in his "Consuls and nations in the Levant from 1570 to 1650," 
Scandinavian Economic History Review 15(1967): 143—62. J. G. A. Pocock 
presents a revisionist agenda for examining the English encounter with 
others in "British history: a plea for a new subject," Journal of Mod- 
ern History 4(1975): 601-24. An attempt to implement some aspects of 

250 Suggestions for further reading 

this agenda is Daniel Goffman, Britons in the Ottoman Empire, 1642-60 
(Seattle, 1998). 


There are countless published sources on European observers of the 
Ottoman world. One of the most astute of such witnesses was O. G. de 
Busbecq, on which see Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq: Imperial ambassador 
at Constantinople (Oxford, 1968). A second is found in Konstantin 
Mihailovich, Memoirs of a janissary (Ann Arbor, 1975). Quite differ- 
ent but equally important is Robert Bargrave, The travel diary of Robert 
Bargrave, ed. Michael G. Brennan (London, 1999). Also fascinating is 
Lady Mary Wortley Montague, The Turkish Embassy letters, intro. Anita 
Desai (London, 1993). 

While the publication of Ottoman documents has become quite 
an industry in Turkey, there are unfortunately few such collections 
available in English, especially for the earliest period. Any investigation 
into Ottoman sources, though, should begin with Suraiya Faroqhi's 
Approaching Ottoman history: an introduction to the sources (Cambridge, 
1999), which constitutes an exhaustive discussion of Ottoman holdings 
in many libraries and archives. Bernard Lewis (ed. and trans.), Islam from 
the Prophet Muhammad to the Capture of Constantinople, 2 vols. (Oxford, 
1987), contains a number of sources from the formative years of the 
Ottoman polity. More specific studies include Lewis V. Thomas's work 
on one of the most important seventeenth-century Ottoman chroniclers, 
A study of Naima, ed. Norman Itzkowitz (New York, 1971); Bernard 
Lewis's Notes and documents from the Turkish archives: a contribution to 
the history of the Jews in the Ottoman Empire (Jerusalem, 1952), which 
looks at a specific topic through the lens of the central Ottoman archives; 
Yvonne Seng's examination of kadi court records, "The §er'iye sicilleri of 
the Istanbul muftuliigu as a source for the study of everyday life," Turkish 
Studies Association Bulletin 15.2(1991): 307-25; and Daniel Goffman's 
discussion of the "registers of foreigners" in Izmir and the Levantine world, 
pp. 147-54. 

Among studies that discuss the difficulties of dealing with particular 
Ottoman sources are Heath Lowry, "The Ottoman tahrir-defterleri as a 
source for social and economic history: pitfalls and limitations," Ttirkische 
Wirtschafts- und Sozialgeschichte von 1071 bis 1920 (Wiesbaden, 1995), 
pp. 183-96; and Rifa'at Ali Abu-El-Haj, Formation of the modern state: 
the Ottoman Empire, sixteenth to eighteenth centuries (Albany, NY, 1992). 
Rifa'at's book also is a severe critique of the state of Ottoman studies, 
as is Halil Berktay and Suraiya Faroqhi, New approaches to the state and 

Suggestions for further reading 25 1 

peasant in Ottoman history (London, 1992). §evket Pamuk has attacked 
the complicated issue of Ottoman money in A Monetary History of the 
Ottoman Empire (Cambridge, 2000); and Jane Hathaway has recently 
dealt with the hoary matter of Ottoman periodization in "Problems of 
periodization in Ottoman history: the fifteenth through the eighteenth 
centuries," Turkish Studies Association Bulletin 20.2(1996): 25-31. 


Abbas, Shah (1587-1629), 87, 214 

Abbasid dynasty, 57 

Abdal, 74 

abdication, 50, 97, 112 

abode of the covenant, 46, 177-8 

abode of Islam, 46, 58n.l0, 61, 101, 131, 

153, 170, 173, 178 
abode of War, 46, 57, 58n.l0, 

Abraham, 8-9, 99, 109 
absolutism, 121 
Achaia, 208 
Adana, 105 
administration, 150-1, 155, 194-5, 197-8, 

Ottoman, 17, 24, 50-1, 55, 60, 63-4, 

65, 67-8, 70-3, 75, 82-3, 110, 121, 

123-5, 145, 157-8, 170-1, 180, 182, 

199, 201-6, 212-13, 214-15, 221-2, 

228, 232 
provincial, 77-83, 101-5, 116-17, 120, 

196-7, 207 
sources on, xiv 
see also politics 
admiral, 144, 148 

see also kapudanpa^a 
Adrianople, 36 (map) 

see also Edirne 
Adriatic sea, 132n.3, 143, 144, 145, 146 

(map), 148-9, 152, 165, 177-8, 189, 

advocacy, 68 
Aegean sea, 132n.3, 141, 145, 146 (map), 

148-9, 151-4, 156, 165, 197, 217, 

Africa, 51, 139,221 
agriculture, 69, 75-6, 81-2, 83, 89, 153, 

158, 193,212-13,216,234 
ahdname, 171, 172-3, 183, 187, 193, 196, 

see also capitulations 

Ahmed Pasha, Melek, xiv, 203, 214, 217 
akinci, ilnAS, 103, 157 

see also cavalry 
Akkerman, 102 (map), 103, 182 
Aksehir, 105 
Albania, 84 (map), 102 (map), 148, 178, 

Aleppo, 15, 17, 72, 83, 87, 90-1, 91, 

99, 105, 116-17, 125, 137, 147 

(map), 162, 181, 182, 201-5, 

206, 208-9, 210-12, 228-9, 

Alexander the Great, 106-7 
Alexandretta, 147 (map), 199, 210 
Alexandria, 15, 17, 137, 147 (map), 162, 

179, 181, 199, 202fflMs.,231 
Algeria, 84 (map) 
Ali Pasha, iVIuezzinzade, 159 

see God 
alliances, 14, 19, 40, 186, 228 
against the Ottomans, 7, 97, 144, 

145-9, 156-62, 166-8, 167n.7, 

189-90, 194,216-17 
alum, 57, 133 
aman, 196 
ambassadors, 19, 56, 72, 107, 138, 162, 

165n.2, 173, 185-7, 197-8, 199, 203, 

204, 205, 218-20, 221-2, 223 illus., 

see also specific states', bailo; 

America, 5, 29, 111, 113-15, 199,221, 

223, 232-3 
natives in, 30, 227 
slavery in, 65, 69 
see also United States 
Amsterdam, 2 (map), 16, 17, 119, 180, 

187, 195 
Anabaptists, 111 
Anadoluhisar, 53 (map), 53—4 




Anatolia, 16, 36 (map), 37, 38, 70, 76, 79 
iUus., 115-16, 121, 125, 156, 157-8, 

commerce in, 13, 54, 75-6, 87, 91, 
120-1, 134, 144, 151-4, 155, 166, 

frontiers in, 9, 31, 33, 34-5, 45, 51, 71, 
99, 166, 144 

invasions of, 6, 11, 12, 30-1,41, 73,75, 
85, 105, 138, 169,234 

states in, 39, 49, 50, 173 

see also frontier 
Ancona, 146 (map), 149, 165n.2, 176, 181 
Angela Gabriele (ship), 168 
Anglicanism, 111, 208-13 
Anglo-Ottoman Commercial Convention, 

Ankara, 36 (map), 45, 81, 172, 199 

sources in, xiii 
Antakya, 105, 147 (map) 
Antalya, 147 (map), 199 
Antep, 85 

anti-Christ, 109-10 
Antioch, 208 
Antwerp, 181 

apostasy, 186, 211-12, 212n.31 
Apostles, 131 
Apulia, 165n.2, 180 
Aqsa mosque, 29-30 
aqueducts, 222 
Arabia, 5 1 
Arabic, xviii, 16, 51, 169, 208-9, 210 

see also language 
Araboglu family, 201 
Arabs, 57 

commerce and, 1 7 

conquests by, 1 3 

legacy from, 7, 9, 11, 12, 16, 28, 65, 81, 
90, 107, 126, 180,228 

Ottomans and, 50, 51, 73, 75, 91, 
99, 105, 125, 150-1, 209, 214, 227 

representations of, 5, 29-30, 30n.7 
Aragon, 180 
Arbel, Benjamin, 23n.2 
architecture, 106, 126, 185 
aristocracy, 65, 69, 151-3, 166n.5 

see also elites 

see navies 
Armenia, 84 (map) 
Armenians, 86 illus. 

Christian, 52, 54, 208-9 

in Ottoman Empire, 54, 73, 83-9, 153, 
157-8, 169, 171,205 

trade and, 15-16, 17, 19, 20, 134, 177, 

179, 182-3,203 
armory, imperial, 115-16 
army, 39, 49, 138, 142, 227 

Ottoman, 45, 47, 50-1, 60, 65, 67, 
81-2, 92, 99, 101-5, 111, 116, 121, 
139, 145-51, 156-8, 172, 185,211, 

personal, 116, 201—3 

recruitment for, 113-15 

see also cavalry; janissary corps 
arsenals, 53 (map), 134, 135, 159-61, 

artifacts, 209 

artillery corps, 77, 111, 148, 155 
artisans, 89-90, 107, 121 
artists, 32, 106, 107 
Ashkenazim, 16, 135, 180 

see also Jews 
Asia, 9, 64-5, 139,221 

trade with, 15, 163, 223, 232-3 
Asia in the making of Europe^ xvii 
Asia Minor 

see Anatolia 
askeri,')\, 113, 121, 123-4 

see also army; cavalry; janissary corps 
Athens, 102 (map), 146 (map) 
Atlantic seaboard, 17, 20, 66-7, 176, 

180, 190, 193-4, 198,217-18,221, 

audiences, 132, 223 illus. 
Augsburg, 137 
Austria, xiv, 107, 151 

see also Habsburg empire 

political, 46, 47, 105, 151-2, 170-1, 
172, 177,201-2,234 

religious, 15, 73, 172, 197 
avania, 220 

Avlonya, 102 (map), 148, 177, 178 
Ayasolug, 115, 147 (map) 
Aydin, 35 (map) 
Aydinoglu, 11, 31, 34, 85, 173 
Azerbaijan, 84 (map) 

Baba Ilyas, 42 

Baghdad, 23, 70, 90, 105, 182, 214 

Baha'ism, 33 

bailo, 56-7, 95-7, 131, 132n.5, 133, 143, 
145, 155-6, 166, 157, 157n.9, 159, 
175, 186, 195, 197,224,231 

bakers, 90, 121 

Baki, 105-7, 126 

Balat, 53 (map), 85 



Balkans, 16 

commerce in, 13, 54, 91, 144, 149, 

frontiers in, 9, 18, 47, 99, 110 

invasions of, 6, 17, 38, 74, 81, 107, 153 

Ottomans and, 49, 50, 55, 76, 103, 105, 
125, 150-1, 152, 157-8, 169, 206-8, 

see also specific states', frontier 
banking, 83, 85, 163 

see also moneylending 
Baphaeon, 36 (map), 37 
Bar, 102 (map), 178 
Barak Baba, 73-4 
barbarism, 5, 6, 28, 30, 109, 227 

perceptions of, 39 
Barbarossa Pasha, Hayreddin, 145, 148, 

Barbary Coast, 2 (map), 141, 145, 150, 

Bargrave, Robert, 198-9, 224 
barley, 154 

Barnardiston, Samuel, 205 
Basire, Isaac, 208-10, 212-13 
baths, public, 222 
battles, 9, 123, 148-9 

see also specific battles 
Bayezid I (1389-1402), 4, 34, 38, 

39-40, 45, 47, 49, 53, 63, 65, 103 
Bayezid II (1481-1512), 76, 112, 141-4, 

bazaar, 53 (map), 197, 222 

see also markets 
Bedik, 203 

Bedreddin, Shaykh, 39, 75 
beggars, 90 
Bektas Veli, Haci, 74 
Bektasis, 74-5, 81 
Belgrade, 3 (map), 99, 100 illus, 102 

(map), 156,206,214 
Bellini, Gentile, 14, 107 
Bendysh, Thomas, 198, 204, 221-2, 224 
bertone, 194 

see also ships 
fcejj, 39, 50, 51,52, 79, 169 
beylerbeyi, 79 illus., 81, 82, 143 

see also governors 
bida',8, 117-19, 124, 125 
Bihac, 191 
biography, xv 
bishopry, 207, 208-9 
Bithynia, 31, 36 (map), 37 
Black sea, 13, 45, 51, 53 (map), 54, 85, 
87, 103, 141, 144, 147 (map), 152-3, 
154, 182, 183,218 

blockades, 217-21 
Bodin, Jean, 6, 111-12 
Bordeaux, 2 (map), 17, 180 

see frontier 
Bosnia, 55, 56, 67, 68, 102 (map), 178, 

190, 191,206-7 
Bosnia-Herzegovina, 84 (map) 
bostanci, 24, 93, 95, 96 
boycotts, 181 

Bragadino, Marco Antonio, 156 
bridges, 106 

brigandage, 1 15-16, 201-3, 207 

see England 
brokerage, 17, 85, 119 

see also banking; money 
brothels, 133 
brothers, 56, 63, 68 

in imperial families, 50, 99, 112, 124, 
141, 156 

in scriptures, 8-9 
Buda, 3 (map), 101, 102 (map), 139 
Buddhism, 33 

Budin, 102 (map), 144, 207 
builders, 89, 90, 106, 222 
Bulgaria, 45, 84 (map) 

see administration 
Bursa, 31, 36 (map), 37, 41, 53 (map), 76, 

85,87, 173, 182, 199 
butchers, 90, 121,218 
Byzantium, 6n.9, 7, 36 (map), 179 

Europe and, 15, 138 

factionalism in, 42-3 

legacy of, 12-13, 16, 19, 28, 33, 34-5, 
40, 51, 54, 56, 81, 85, 93, 126, 139, 
163-4, 170-1, 172, 177, 180, 213, 

Ottoman frontier and, 8, 9, 11, 30-1, 
37, 39, 41, 46, 49-50, 53, 230 

sources from, 27 

see also empire; frontier 

Cabral, Pedro, 1 63 

cadastral survey, 77-9, 82, 103, 153, 154, 

see also demography 
caique, 56 

Cairo, 70, 81, 90-1, 99, 147 (map), 155, 
199, 228-9 

sources in, xiii 
Calabria, 180 

Caldiran, battle of, 99, 101 
calendars, 132n.3 



caliphate, 13 

Calvin, John, 110 

Calvinism, 103, 109, 111, 221 

see also Protestantism 
Cambridge, 208 

amphibious, 145-8, 150-1 
season, 81, 143, 150 
see also war 
canals, 133-4, 168 
Candarli Halil, 5 1-3, 97 
Candia, 146 (map), 173,211,213,215, 

candle-makers, 175, 196 
Canning, Mary, 212 
cannon, 51, 54, 96, 159, 219 
Canpulatoglu, family, 201 
Ali, 116-17 
Huseyin, 116,201 
Cantacuzenus family, 37 

John IV (1347-54), 39, 42, 46 
capital, 61, 85, 87, 138, 156, 186 

Istanbul as, 12, 13, 46, 54, 56, 70, 121, 

154, 191 
see also Istanbul; Sublime Porte; 
capitulations, 57, 144-5, 152, 169, 
172-6, 183-5, 186-7, 190, 193, 
194-5, 196-7, 203-6, 228-9, 
see also ahdname'^ treaties 
captains, 90, 194, 218-20 

see also ships 
captives, 47-9, 69, 191, 229 
Capuchins, 111, 209 
caravans, 90-1, 154, 173, 201 
careers, Ottoman, 26, 55 
Caribbean sea, 217, 232 
carpenters, 89 
Caspian sea, 87, 99 
Castilian, 180 
castration, 24, 61, 67 

see also eunuch 
Catalan, 180 
catechism, 208-9 

Catholicism, 9, 20, 29, 40, 46-7, 58, 
74-5,91,97,99, 101-3, 107, 
109-12, 135, 137, 145-9, 151-4, 
157-61, 166-8, 177-8, 180-1, 
186, 189-90, 194, 206-7, 208-9, 
see also Christianity 
Cattaro, 13 In. 3 
Caucasus, 56 

cavalry, 24 

Ottoman, 47, 49, 50, 65, 69, 78 illus., 
79, 80 illus., 91, 103, 104 illus., 115, 
123, 156, 191,216 
favu§, 23n.2, 25 illus., 26, 54-8, 57n.9, 72, 
82-3, 95-7, 131-6, 132n.3, 165-8, 
165n.2, 205 
see also Kubad 
celibacy, 63, 75 
Cem, 141, 156 
Cennetoglu, 201-3 
census, 77 

see also cadastral survey; demography; 
Central Asia, 11, 31, 33, 61, 67 

legacy from, 28, 38, 39, 40, 46, 47,51, 
81, 107, 126,227-8 
Cephalonia, 144, 146 (map) 
ceremonies, 26, 56, 82, 89-90, 94 illus., 

107-9, 122 illus., 174 illus. 
certificates, 133, 165 
gesme, 75-6, 147 (map), 152, 154 
chalk-makers, 90 

Charles I (1625-49), 208, 210, 220 
Charles II (1660-85), 208, 225 
CharlesV (1519-56), 4, 17,99, 101, 

108-9, 110-11, 112, 139, 145, 168, 
see also Habsburg empire 
Charles, archduke, 165n.2 
charters, company, 195 
Chengiz Khan, 37 
children, 4, 72, 154 
Chios, 46, 75-6, 96-7, 131, 132n.3, 

147 (map), 151-4, 155, 156, 175, 199 

as civilization, 6, 12, 17, 56, 135, 

139-41, 213, 216-17, 225, 228, 232 
as universalist faith, 7, 52, 55, 57, 103, 

182, 187,210-1 
commerce and, 19, 91, 134, 161, 221, 

converts to, 31, 33-4 
in Ottoman empire, 33, 38, 42, 45-6, 
49, 51, 56, 67-8, 83, 134-5, 169, 186, 
206-13, 224 
Islam and, 5, 6-7, 9, 11, 15-16, 24, 47, 
58, 67, 72-3, 99, 133-6, 137, 160 
illus., 161-4, 178,229 
legitimacy and, 109, 123 
schisms in, 109-12 
war and, 4, 13, 18, 41-7, 96, 144-5, 

150-4, 157, 162, 166-7, 190-1 
see also Catholicism; Protestantism; 



Arab, 29-30 

Ottoman, xiii, xiv, 27-8, 39, 59-60, 64, 
105, 106, 112-13, 134n.ll, 166n.5, 
see also sources 
churches, 13, 29-30, 54, 55, 56, 70, 93, 
122 iUus., 135, 153, 154, 169, 170-1, 
172, 185, 187, 207, 209, 210, 230 
gifthane, 59, 89 
cinnamon, 15 

Circassia, 23n.2, 56, 134, 168 
citizenship, 92, 112, 205, 229, 233-4 

see also nation state 
civil war, 142, 145 
in Byzantium, 42-3 
in England, 19,208 
in Ottoman empire, 39, 45, 49, 59, 63 

comparisons between, 5, 7, 16, 30, 85-6, 

106-7, 109, 117, 137-41,213,228 
Ottoman, xv, 6, 15, 49-51, 85, 95n.7, 

125-6, 180,210,224 
relations between, xiii, 9, 31, 152-3, 

western, 6, 12, 28 
see also Christianity; culture; Islam 

see head tax 
class, 81, 92 

in Ottoman empire, 39, 65, 72, 83-91 
classical age, Ottoman, 50 
Clement VII (1378-94), 10 
clergy. 111, 153, 206-13, 224, 228-9 

see also priests; Protestantism 
clothing, 71 illus., 74, 88 illus., 107-8, 108 
illus., 184 illus., 200 illus., 218, 219, 
223 illus. 
cloves, 90 
coalitions, 50 

see also factionalism 

of behavior, 24, 113 

of laws, 76-7, 92, 105, 170-1, 187, 

see also laws; religion 
coffee, 62 illus., 117, 133-4 
coffeehouses, 117, 133-4, 134n.ll 
coinage, 27, 173 

see also finances; money 
colonies, 30, 54, 87, 111, 131, 132, 135, 
138, 141, 151-4, 155-8, 163-4, 
172-3, 178, 197, 199, 207, 213, 
228, 230, 234 
see also imperialism 
commanders, 142-3, 144-8, 150-1, 159 

commerce, 83-91, 212-21 

international, xiv, 9, 11, 14, 15-17, 
18-19, 57n.9, 64, 73, 75-6, 85-7, 
120, 135-6, 137-8, 144-5, 149, 
162-4, 169, 176-83, 201-6, 218, 
Istanbul and, 54, 56-7, 154, 185, 

on frontiers, 9, 143, 171, 196-9, 213 
regional, 72, 116 

treaties and, 110, 141, 151-2, 172-4 
commodities, 9, 15, 56-7, 83-91, 119-20, 
132, 161, 167, 176, 191, 193, 195, 
204, 205, 220 
see also specific goods; commerce 
Commonwealths, 18, 111, 208, 210, 

communism, 186 
communities, 170, 187-8, 193-7 

European, 9, 74, 135, 151-4, 173, 212 
local, 125, 157-8, 161, 168, 190-1 
Ottoman, 9, 15-17, 73, 75, 81, 87-91, 
117-19, 121, 126, 144-5, 154, 
179-83, 206-7 
see also specific religions 
companies, trading, 17, 194-6, 197-9, 
see also England; Netherlands 
concubinage, 39, 40-1, 61, 63, 112, 124, 
139, 166, 166n.5, 214, 228 
see also households 
confectioners, 90 

see war 

legacy of, 7, 54, 156 
of Constantinople, 12, 13, 14 illus., 16, 
50, 51-4, 70, 91, 97, 137-8, 142, 155, 
156, 163, 170, 183, 193, 228, 230 
Ottoman, In.l, 6, 8, 16, 33, 37, 41-9, 
67, 73, 74, 77, 97, 98, 99-105, 
100 illus., 107, 131, 139, 141-9, 
150-8, 163, 170, 179, 189, 203, 
see also army; war 
conscription, 68, 77 
Constantine (311-37), 11, 13 
Constantinople, 6, 6n.9, 36 (map), 41, 45, 
61,89-90, 138, 157, 163 
conquests of, 9, 12—13, 14 illus., 16, 30, 
50, 51-4, 59, 70, 91, 97, 107, 137, 
155, 170, 172, 177, 183, 193, 214, 
228, 230 
symbolism of, 12, 34-5, 168, 174 illus. 
see also Istanbul 
constitutionality, 92, 126, 233 



consuls, 145, 186-7, 195, 197, 199, 

201-5, 210, 211, 220, 228-9 
conversion, 7, 18, 33-4, 42, 45-6, 49, 55, 
67-8, 120, 141, 141n.4, 153, 180-1, 
see also Christianity; Islam 
Corfu, 142, 144, 146 (map), 148, 180, 

Corinth, Gulf of, 142, 143, 146 (map), 

Coriolanus, 4 
Coron, 146 (map) 
coronation, 107-8 

as a source, xiii, xiv 
corruption, 27, 106, 112-13, 123-5, 175, 


see piracy 
corvee, 46, 155, 157 

see also taxes 
cotton, 9, 69, 152, 154 
councils, 17, 70, 95, 131, 133, 172 

see also divan; state; Sublime Porte 
courts, 64 

Ottoman, 56-7, 69, 72-3, 81, 95-6, 
courtyards, 24-26, 61, 62 illus., 93-7, 94 

illus.^ 122 illus. 
Crete, 91, 146 (map), 148, 151, 173, 181, 
war in, 178,213-22, 230 
crime, 116, 120-1 
Crimea, 13, 87, 103 
Croatia, 67, 84 (map) 
Croix, Chevalier de la, 224 
Cromwell, Oliver, 210, 216-17, 232 
Crow, Sackvile, 205, 220 

fourth, 34-5, 46, 52, 138, 157, 163, 

ideology and, 4, 7, 29-30, 30n.7, 137, 

160 Sms., 216-17 
Ottomans and, 34, 38, 45, 50, 99-103, 

states of, 12, 154, 157 
see also Christianity; religion 
culture, 227-8 

blendings of, 6, 10, 16, 33, 61-4, 64, 73, 

141n.4, 144-5 
clashes between, 12, 67-8, 139 
commerce and, 17, 19 
in Europe, 4n.4 
in Ottoman empire, 8, 9, 23, 40, 49, 51, 

65-7, 69, 75 
see also civilization 

customs shed, 222 

Cyprus, 120, 133, 134, 141, 147 (map), 
Ottoman conquest of, 131-2, 132, 
132n.6, 154-8, 159, 162, 166-8, 189, 
piracy and, 96 

Dalmatia, 102 (map), 146 (map), 148-9, 

177-8, 190, 191 
damad, 64, 96 

see also relations, by marriage 
Damascus, 182 
Dandolo, Enrico, 52, 163 

provinces, 101-5, 144 

river, 51, 99, 102 (map), 191 
Darius, 106 

Davud Pasha, Ku9uk, 142 
debts, 133 
decentralization, 19, 120-1, 123-7 

see also provinces 
decline, 18, 99, 112-15, 123-7, 159-61, 

see also historiography 
decrees, imperial, 23, 56, 72, 75, 82-3, 
98, 115-16, 120, 131, 132n.3, 
152, 172, 183, 204-5, 206-7, 
220, 222 
Delhi, 26 
deli, 1, 4 

democracy, 112, 126, 186, 233 
demography, 18, 30, 83-5, 89, 91, 119, 
154, 170, 179-80 

see also population 
demonization, 151 

see also otherness 
dervish, 23, 24, 39, 42, 43 illus., 73-4, 

see also specific orders; Sufism 
despotism, 59, 64, 81, 98, 141, 155, 165, 

222, 227, 229, 232 
devolution, 123 
devfirme, 55, 67-8, 74, 106, 154, 221 

see also slavery 
deys, 145 
diaries, xiv 
diasporas, 85-9, 161, 182 

trading, 17, 90-1, 164, 177, 180, 

see also networks 
diets, of principalities, 103 

as area of study, xiv 

development of, xiv, 144-5, 183-9, 190 

in Europe, 138-41 



diplomacy (cont.) 

Ottomans and, 17, 26, 56, 64, 89, 133, 
145, 149, 157, 169, 175-6, 195, 
201-3, 212-13, 219-20, 224-5, 
see also ambassadors 
display, imperial, 94 illus., 105-9 
districts, 83-5, 90, 135, 180, 201-6, 229 
in Islamic cities, 15, 185 
in Istanbul, 51, 54, 56, 70, 72, 93, 135, 

as furniture, 107, 133, 213 
imperial, 25 illus., 70, 72, 79 illus., 82-3, 
93, 95-7, 132, 156, 165-7, 165n.2, 
167n.6, 175,222 illus. 
see also Sublime Porte 
divorce, 72 
Diyarbekir, 105 

doctrine, 8, 24, 137, 170, 206-7, 209 
see also Christianity; Islam; religion 
doge, 52, 96, 132, 139, 163, 167, 167n.7, 
see also Venice 
Dominicans, 74-5 
Don Juan of Austria, 159, 168 
Doria, Andrea, 148, 168 
dormitory, 24 
dowry, 41 

see translator 
Dubrovnik, 3 (map), 46, 91, 102 (map), 
146 (map), 149, 152, 165, 167, 176, 
177-9, 182, 190, 206-7, 209 

see money 
Durazzo, 102 (map), 178 

see Netherlands 
dynasty, 64, 67, 110, 154-5 

Ottoman, 33, 38-41, 52, 54, 60-4, 

see also sultan 

East, 91, 141, 163,232 

versus West, 5, 16, 28-9, 137, 186, 209, 
Ebu's-Su'ud, 76-7, 117, 166 

as area of study, xiv 
growth of, 51, 192 
local, 121 

niches in, 85-91, 119, 183 
states and, 15, 17-18, 134, 152-3, 158, 
170-1, 201-6, 216, 218, 221, 228, 

trade and, 16, 91, 120, 137-8, 144-5, 

types of, xiii, 19,73,89, 115, 126, 195, 

see also commerce 
Edebali, shaykh, 39, 42, 69 
Edirne, 3 (map), 31, 45, 53 (map), 61, 63, 
83, 87, 102 (map), 106, 131n.3, 142, 
150, 163, 165, 178, 191 
Edirnekapi, 53 (map) 

see schools 
Egypt, 16, 67, 84 (map), 99, 105, 119, 
139, 141, 144, 151, 155, 156, 163, 
food and, 13, 15,96, 101 
see also provisioning 
elites, 64-7 

local, 77-9, 121, 123-4, 199, 201-5 
Ottoman, xiii, 24-6 49, 51, 63-4, 65, 68, 

82-3, 182, 188 illus., 191, 195, 213 
religious, 51, 69-71 
see also notables; ulema; viziers 
Elizabeth I (1558-1603), 57, 194-5 
emin, 11 ,^3 
emir, 11, 27, 32, 41, 61, 65, 69, 73, 173, 

emirates, 11, 31-3, 34-5, 37, 39, 42-3, 45, 

49, 126, 173,228 
emperor, 10 illus., 17, 34, 39, 42, 162, 193 

see also king; sultan 
empire, 110, 125 

as type, 5, 28, 95n.7, 123, 126-7, 185, 

comparisons between, 138-41, 149, 

155-6, 230-1 
creation of, 34, 163-4 
expansion of, 6, 13, 37, 49-50, 101-5 
see also state 
endowment, religious, 55, 70, 16-1, 

England, 126, 189,227 

diplomacy of, 64, 183, 185, 186 
government of, 1, 18, 40, 57n.9, 63, 

111, 158 
language of, 169 
merchants from, 17, 19, 57, 119, 124, 

172, 193-6, 196-9, 201-6, 213 
Ottoman Empire and, 73, 112, 176, 

207-13, 228-9, 230-1, 232-4 
piracy and, 161, 162 
entrepot, 76 

see also port city 

see ambassador; bailo; gavu^ 
Erzincan, 23, 105 



ethnicity, 92, 112, 150-1, 154, 227-8 
within Ottoman Empire, 5, 9, 51, 54, 

65,67-8,85, 141n.4, 158, 171-2,211 
see also identity 
eunuch, 24, 61, 68, 95, 121 
eurocentrism, 4, 4n.4 
Europe, 139 

as Christian, 7, 8, 17, 29-30, 56, 58, 
101, 109-12, 133, 141, 168, 
characteristics of, 4, 6, 38, 65, 74, 81, 

92, 109, 169 
monarchy and, 38, 40, 61, 65, 107-8 
non-European world and, xiii, 1,5, 13, 
46, 57n.9, 82-3, 83, 126, 175-6, 199, 
223 illus. 
Ottoman Empire in, 9, 1 1, 15, 18, 34-5, 
37, 40-1, 42, 44 illus., 45, 47, 49, 54, 
64-5, 70, 75, 82-3, 90, 101-5, 137, 
142, 150, 180-2, 183-8, 197, 213-22, 
states in, 1, 50, 51, 68, 112-13, 162, 

stereotypes and, 4n.4, 12, 29-30, 32 

illus., 52, 67-9, 83, 85, 159-61 
trade and, 16, 19, 75-6, 87-8, 91, 
135-6, 149, 151-4, 172-3, 179, 
180-2, 193-6, 199-206 
see also specific states'. West 
Evliya ^elebi, xiv, 89-90 
Evora, 180 

executions, 23, 87, 144, 191, 208, 222 
sultanic, 39, 63, 95, 97, 98, 112, 
exemptions, from taxes, 101 
exile, 41, 120, 132 

religious, 42, 135, 168, 208 
exports, 152-4, 181,209 
expulsions, 9, 16, 87-8, 135, 177, 180 
extraterritoriality, 186-7, 195-6 
extremism, 4 
Eyiib, 6n.9, 174 illus. 
Eyiib Ensari, 174 illus. 

factionalism, 42-3, 52, 63-4, 68, 82-3, 98, 
121, 132, 166-7, 203-5, 214-15 

factor, 17, 119, 195, 199, 205-6, 221 
see also merchant 

factory, 135n.l5, 196-9, 203-6, 206, 208, 

Famagusta, 147 (map), 156, 157, 158-9, 

fanaticism, 33 

Fatih, 72, 85, 93 

Fatih mosque, 53 (map) 

favoritism, 113 

Fener, 53 (map), 56, 85 

Ferdinand (1479-1516), 12 

Fertile Crescent, 99 

jetva, 27, 76, 117 

feudalism, 4, 81, 154 

figs, 154 

Filibe, 36 (map), 45 

finances, 11, 138, 161, 179, 190 

Ottoman, 17, 54, 77-83, 98, 113-15, 

123, 125, 153-4, 170, 180, 182, 195 
see also economy; taxes 

firearms, lOfflMs.,51, 101, 113-15, 115-16 

see decrees 
First World War, 28, 127 
fishing, 85, 89, 90 
Flanders, 218 

see navies 
Florence, 2 (map), 172, 176-7, 178, 179, 

182, 183, 186, 187,215,217 
Fo9a, 120, 147 (map), 154 
fondaco, 135, 135n.l5, 168n.l0, 229 
food, 18, 120-1, 153, 179, 190, 198, 200 
illus. ,218 
see also specific types; provisioning 
foreign, 82-3, 150-1, 161 

interpretations of Ottoman history, 

28-9, 183-6 
settlement in port cities, 18, 125 
settlement in the Ottoman empire, 9, 
17, 54, 57, 116, 172-6, 183, 196-9, 
subjects and Ottomans, 72-3, 93—7, 

124, 195,207-13,218-21 
ways, 1, 63 

see also specific states 
fortresses, 39, 42, 44 illus., 53-4, 115, 

120-1, 131, 142-3, 145-6, 149, 150, 
152, 155,220,222 
Frampton, Robert, 208, 210-13, 215 
France, 140 (map), 141, 154, 189 
as society, 18, 126, 127, 218, 221 
diplomacy of, 64, 138, 142, 183, 185, 

government of, 1, 40-1 
language of, 169 

merchants from, 17, 19, 161, 172, 190, 
193-4, 195-6, 196-9, 201-5, 206, 
Ottomans and, 56, 61,73, 111, 112, 
176, 207, 211-12, 213, 215, 217, 
218-20, 227, 228-9, 230, 232-3 
rulers of, 4, 63, 110 
Francis! (1515-47), 4, 110, 193 
Franciscans, 74-5 

260 Index 

Franks, 206 

see also Europe; Latins 
fratricide, 38, 63, 1 12 

see also brothers 
friar, 211 

as borderland, 8, 9, 11, 18-19, 30, 31, 

55, 161, 171, 196-9,203,233 
changes in, 11, 74 
flexibility in 39, 49-50, 73, 139-41, 

states on, 7, 34, 38, 46, 51, 191,231 
wars along, 12n.l6, 23, 29-30, 47, 
101-5, 143-4, 157, 213-14, 229 
fruits, 9, 75-6, 120, 152, 154, 203, 

Galata, 53 (map), 54, 56, 57, 72, 133, 
153, 163, 165, 175, 176, 183, 184 
illus., 185, 196-7,228 

as suburb, 6n.9, 172-3, 205-6 
Galata Tower, 56, 159-61 
galeasse, 159 

see ships 
Gallipoli, 36 (map), 37, 42, 44 illus., 142, 

147 (map) 
gardens, 95, 95n.7, 214 
gate of Felicity, 94 illus. 
gaza, 33,41,^2,42-5 
gazel, 126 
gazi, 8, 37, 41-2, 41n.l8, 67, 69, 157, 178 

thesis, 33 
gender, xii 

see also households 
Gennadius Scholarius, 171, 172 
Genoa, 2 (map), 180, 190, 193 

merchants from, 15, 182, 196 

Ottomans and, 53-4, 56, 73, 96, 148, 
151-4, 155, 172-3, 175, 183, 186, 
187, 190, 224, 228, 229 

sources from, 27 
genocide, 126 
geography, 65, 109, 139, 171, 206, 

Georgia, 84 (map) 
German, 16, 109, 110-11, 135, 169, 179, 

Germiyan, 36 (map), 45 
Gevherhan sultan, 97 
ghetto, 135 
ghetto novo, 135 
ghulam, 67, 69 

see also slavery 
Gibbon, Edward, 1 

Gibbons, Herbert A., 28 

Giudecca, 132, 134 

Giustiniani, 151-3 

GliickelofHameln, 120 

God, 8, 23, 29, 58, 98, 135, 211 

golden age, Ottoman, 98-9, 229-30 

see also Siileyman 
Golden Horn, 53 (map), 54, 56, 57, 61, 

153, 159-61, 184 illus., 189, 219 
Golden Lyon (ship), 205 
Gonzales de Clavijo, Ruy, 73-4 
Goodwin, Jason, In.l 
Gospels, 170, 207 
Goths, 12 

see state; Sublime Porte 

in Ottoman administration, 1, 81, 115, 
116-17, 120, 191, 201, 204, 210 

see also beylerbeyi; provinces 
grain, 9, 75-6, 96, 155, 177, 190, 218, 
220, 230 

see also provisioning 
Granada, 12 

grand vizier, 55, 65, 68, 96-7, 103, 105, 
107, 112, 120, 131, 132, 139, 156, 
166-7, 190, 201-3, 214-15, 217, 

families of, 23, 51, 63-4, 121 

see also specific individuals 
grapes, 154 
gravediggers, 90 
gravity, theory of, 126 
Great Library, 52 
Greece, 84 (map) 
Greeks, 142, 145, 155, 184 illus., 224 

as merchants, 17, 20, 134 

as nation, 6n.9 , 154, 192, 227 

as rulers, 46 

language of, 16, 169, 208 

Ottomans and, 51, 54, 68n.5, 73, 
83-91, 107, 109, 143, 150-4, 
157-8, 205, 228 

religion of, 17, 19, 46-7, 56, 103, 1 1 1, 
135, 170-1, 206-7, 208-9, 210, 

Venetians and, 141, 144, 156-8 
Gregorian, 171 

Grimani, Alvise, 132-3, 168, 189-90 
Grimani, Antonio, 142, 144 
Gritti, Alvise, 107, 139 
Gritti, Andrea, 139, 145 
Guicciardini, Francesco, 162, 224 
guilds, 89-90 
Guilmartin, John, 150 



Gul9i9ek, 40 
gunpowder, 51, 195 

see also cannon; firearms 

Habsburg empire, 1, 4, 7, 10 illus., 40, 
107-9, 111, 112, 113, 115, 139, 140 
(map), 145, 182, 183, 190, 192, 193, 

Ottoman relations with, 9, 56, 58, 99, 
101-3, 157,225 
Hagar, 8 
Hagia Irene, 93 
Hagia Sofia, 53 (map), 54, 56, 93, 

117 illus. 
hajj, 99 

Hakluyt, Richard, 224 
Hambledon Hill, battle of, 210 
Hamburg, 2 (map), 119-20, 180 
Hameln, 120 
Hamid, 36 (map) 
Hanafi school, 69, 73, 76-7 

see also Islam; schools, of Islamic law 
Harborne, William, 195 
harem, 63-4, 68, 95, 124-5 

see also households 
hasidism, 74, 74n. 1 1 
Haskoy, 135 
hatt-i §erif 

see decrees, imperial 
Hayali, 106 
Haydari order, 23 

see also dervish 
Hayreddin Pasha, 27 
head tax, 47, 101, 170, 174, 175, 196 

see also taxes 
Hebrew, 169 
Hebrews, 8-9,213 

Habsburg, 139 

Ottoman, 38 
Hellenistic world, 107 
Henrietta IVlaria, 208 
HenryV (1413-22), 4 
Henry VIII (1509-47), 40 
Hercegovina, 102 (map), 131n.3, 178 
heretic, 23, 24, 40-1, 42, 46, 63, 117, 153, 

see also heterodoxy; infidel 
Herodotus, 227 
heterodoxy, 16, 33, 39, 42, 47, 69, 73 

see also heretic 
Hext, iVIr., 210 
hierocracy, 170—1, 215 
Hildesheim, 120 
Hinduism, 8, 182 

hinterland, 6, 12, 52, 54, 90, 125, 141, 

162, 164, 177, 178 

in the West, 4-6, 13, 85, 89, 159-61, 

national, 67—8 
Ottoman, xiii, xiv, 19, 27-30, 59-60, 

Ottoman decline and, 18, 64, 112-13, 

123-7, 192 
Ottoman origins and, 33, 34-5 
types of, XV, 6-7, 9, 52n. 25, 212-13, 
Holy Roman Empire, 99, 107-8, 109, 110, 
see also Habsburg empire 
Holy Sepulchre, Church of the, 169, 208 
hospital, 93 
hostages, 103, 141 
households, 37, 69, 145 

Ottoman, xiii, 24-6, 37-41, 42, 59, 
60-4, 68, 70, 83, 95, 97, 112, 121, 
123, 124-5, 179-80, 216, 221-2, 
see also sultan 
hiiccet, 133 
Huguenots, 111, 221 
Hungarians, 169 

Hungary, xiv, 9, 14, 45, 50, 54, 68, 84 
(map), 99, 101-5, 102 (map), 107, 
111, 131, 139, 144, 152, 157, 164, 
Hunyadi, John, 50, 103 
Hiirrem sultan, xiv, 63-4, 112 
Hyde, Henry, 203 
hymns, 74 

Iberia, 12, 13, 16, 47, 88, 137, 150, 177, 
see also Portugal; Spain 
Ibrahim (1640-8), 214-15, 217 
Ibrahim Pasha, 23, 105, 107, 112, 125, 

iconography, 160 illus. 
identity, 29, 67-8, 99, 126, 179-80, 
227-8, 233-4 
on frontiers, 30, 42 
Ottoman, 49, 81, 90, 117, 172 

as divide, 16, 17, 19, 142, 144, 196, 

imperialism as, 29 

religious, 7,11,12, 20, 33, 41-2, 45, 54, 
73-4, 109-12, 119-20, 137, 163, 



ideology (cont.) 

states and, 34, 69, 99, 109, 117-19, 

see also religion 
imam^ 1 17—19 
Imber, Colin, 28n.3 
imperialism, 40, 85 

as ideology, 29, 107-9 

Ottoman, 13 

western European, 4, 126, 231-4 
Inalcik, Halil, 89 
income, 70, 81 
India, 13,87, 182,233 
Indian Ocean, 87, 95n.7, 99, 101, 151, 

162, 163 
industrialization, 126, 233 
infidel, 8, 23, 24, 27, 33, 55, 57-8, 109, 

marriage to, 40-1 

see also heretic 
inflation, 113-15, 199 

customs of, 31, 81 

imperial, 37-8, 40, 45, 85, 139 
inner service, imperial, 24-6 

see bida' 
inns, 133, 134 
inquisition, 103, 181 

Byzantine, 28, 33 

established, 14, 38, 40-1, 73, 74 

Ottoman, 6, 11, 46, 49-50, 59-92 

see also specific institutions 

of Ottoman history, xiii, 13, 27-8 

see also historiography 

see civil war 
Ionian sea, 141, 144, 146 (map) 
Ipsir Pasha, 201 
Iran, 84 (map) 

see also Persia 
Iraq, 84 (map) 
Irish, 227 
Isaac, 8-9 

Isabella (1474-1505), 12 
Isfahan, 26, 81, 87 
IskenderCelebi, 214 

as legitimizer, 33, 39-40, 45-6, 54, 
69-77, 89, 99, 174 tllus, 196, 222-3 

conversion to, 33-4, 55, 67-8, 120, 141, 
141n.4, 153,211-12,215-16 

deviancy in, 43 illus., 69—70, 73-5, 

doctrine of, 24, 47, 67, 101, 109, 116, 

133, 174-5,210-11 
in Europe, 12, 20, 52, 137, 231 
in the Mediterranean, 15, 139-41, 144, 

legacy from, 51, 61, 173, 228 
reformers in, 119 
versus other faiths, 5, 7, 8, 1 1, 28, 

29-30, 31, 42, 68, 187, 190, 196-7, 

world of, 9, 13, 41n.l8, 49, 182-3 
see also other religions 
islands, 143 

see also specific islands 
Ismael, 8-9, 99, 101 
Ismael Shah, 144 
Ismihan sultan, 55, 97 
Israel, 84 (map) 
Istanbul, 3 (map), 53 (map), 76, 87, 102 

(map), 103, 131n.3, 142 
as capital, 6, 19, 24-6, 55-6, 61, 70, 72, 

95n.7, 101, 106, 116-17, 125, 150, 

154, 155, 165-7, 171, 199, 206-7, 

as city, 6n.9, 101, 123, 137, 144-5, 189, 

culture of, 51, 93-5, 107, 133-5, 

174 illus. 
foreigners in, 17, 19-20, 83, 111, 133, 

139-41, 143, 145, 153, 156, 162, 

167, 175, 186, 193-6, 196-7, 209, 

inhabitants of, 16, 28, 57, 85, 89-90, 

91, 98, 131, 157-8, 172, 177, 179-82 
provisions for, 96, 120-1 
sources in, xiii 
see also Constantinople 
Italian, 169,210,211 
Italy, 15, 51, 107, 126, 127, 142, 150, 164, 

167, 172, 180, 182, 185-6, 188, 193, 

200 !7;ms., 216-17 
states in, 18,20, 110, 137, 138, 162, 

176-9, 183, 195, 224, 228, 231-2 
see also Florence; Genoa; Latins; Rome; 

Izmir, 147 (map), 222 

as port city, 31, 75-6, 125, 137, 154, 

173, 201-5, 218, 220, 228-9 
inhabitants of, 16, 17, 85, 87, 119 

janissary corps 

as army, 39, 54, 65, 77, 78 illus., 80 illus., 

104 illus., 114 illus., 157, 168, 216 
as institution, xiv, 47-50, 55, 59, 68, 74, 
75, 81-2, 91, 113-15, 123, 175, 



in Ottoman administration, 1, 24, 

120-1, 169, 196-7 
revolts by, 5 1 
see also army; slavery 
Japan, 40 

Jerusalem, 120, 147 (map), 158, 169, 
MMllus., 179,208,209,213 
sources in, xiii 
Jesuits, 111 
Jesus, 8, 109, 160 illus. 
jewels, 85, 134 

Jews, 9, 74, 109, 112, 119-20, 168, 189, 
as merchants, 16-17, 19, 20, 57, 96, 
131-3, 134-5, 161, 177, 179-82, 
Islamand, 47, 212 

Ottomans and, 51, 54, 56, 73, 83-91, 
111, 153-4, 157-8, 169, 171-2, 187, 
Jinji Hoca, 215 
Jordan, 84 (map) 
Judaism, 15, 20, 33, 109, 180 
Judeo-Christianity, 8—9 

see laws 
see laws 

Kabbalah, 74n. 1 1 

kadi, 56-7, 70-2, 76, 77, 81-3, 95-6, 103, 
115, 133, 154, 165, 169, 174-5, 203, 

see also magistrate; ulema 
kadiasker, 70, 71 illus., 76, 80 illus. 
Kadizade IVlehmed, 117, 120 
kadizadelis, 117—19, 120, 123 
Kafadar, Cemal, 28 
Kaffa, 182 
kanun, 72 

see lawbooks 
kapaci, 24 
kapikulu, 60, 55, 69, 95 

see also devprme; janissaries; slavery 
kapudanpaga, 68, 96, 152, 159, 215, 217 

see also navies 
Kara Riistem, 47, 69 
Karaite, 15 

see also Judaism 
Karaman, 35 (map), 45, 47, 60 
Karaosmanoglu family, 201 
Karasi, 11, 31, 36 (map), 37, 40, 41, 

41n.l8, 42, 85 

see scribes 

Kayseri, 105 
Keegan, John, 95n.7 
Kefe, 81 
khan, 205, 208, 222 

see also factory 
Kilia, 102 (map), 103 
king, 103, 109-10, 123, 162 

characteristics of, 4, 60, 81 

see also sultan 
Kirsehir, 152 
kitchens, imperial, 95 
Knolles, Richard, 19 
Kocubey, 112 
Konya, 31,83, 105 
Kopriilu family, 65, 116 

Ahmed, 120, 222 

Kara IVlustafa, 222 

iVIehmed, 120, 121-2 
Kosem sultan, 214-15, 217 
Kosovo, 9, 38, 45, 102 (map), 103 
Kubad, 132n.3 

as subject of study, xv, xvi, 93n.2, 
165n.2, 167n.7 

life story of, 23-5, 55-8, 93-7, 131-6, 
165-8, 189-91 

see also gavu^ 
Kubad River, 23n.2, 56 

see slavery 
Kumkapi, 135 
Kurds, 115,201 
Kiitahya, 105 
Kuwait, 84 (map) 

Lach, Donald, xvii 

LadislawII (1490-1516), 144 

laid, 96, 156 

land-tenure, 49, 50, 76-7, 81-2, 89, 92, 

language, 5, 16, 24, 51, 65, 169, 205, 
commerce and, 54 
identity and, 67-8, 141n.4, 150-1, 
171, 179, 180, 185,211,227-8, 
Latins, 7, 1 1, 12, 34, 46, 52, 54, 142, 

151-4, 156-7, 172-5, 177, 185, 188, 
189, 194, 196, 206-7, 208, 215 
church of, 1 3 
see also Italy; Venice 
lawbooks, 75-6, 77-9, 154 

customary, 11, 72, 75-6, 77-9, 153, 157 
Islamic, 11,47-9, 69-77, 116, 133, 170, 

174-5, 187, 196-7,207 
of fratricide, 38 



laws {cont.) 

Ottoman, 57, 112, 133, 165-6, 170-1, 
203, 209, 229-30 

religious, 8, 72-3, 154, 170 

sultanic, 11, 39, 72, 75-7, 77-9, 105 

sumptuary, 9, 170 

types of, 11, 72, 75-6, 76-7, 82, 92, 
lawsuits, 73 
Lazarl (1371-89), 45 
leather, 177, 203 

tanning of, 57, 87 
Lebanon, 84 (map) 
legacy, 11, 38-9, 68, 85, 105-9, 156, 
157-8, 173, 180 

see also Byzantium; Islam; Ottoman 
Empire; Turks 

in birth, 40 

of emirates, 33, 42, 173 

of Ottoman state, 12, 28, 210, 214-15, 
Lemnos, 141, 146 (map) 
Lepanto, 14, 102 (map), 113, 141, 142, 
143, 146 (map), 158-62, 160 tllus., 
167-8, 189, 191, 192, 194, 216, 
Lesbos, 147 (map) 

people, 16, 198,207 

world, 19, 132, 169, 173, 180, 181, 185, 
192, 194, 197, 204-5, 208 

see also iVIediterranean 
Levkas, 144, 146 (map), 148 
Libya, 84 (map) 
Lisbon, 180, 181 
Liste d'Oro, 133 
literature, 106—7 
Livorno, 2 (map), 16, 176 
loans, 57, 72 
Lokman, 106 
London, 2 (map), 5, 17, 26, 180, 187, 

194-5, 199,210,229 
Louis XIV (1643-1715), 125, 225 
Luna, Beatrice da, 181 
Lurianic Kabbalah, 119-20 
Lusignan family, 154, 155, 157 
Luther, Martin, 109-10 
Lutheranism, 109-12 

see also Protestantism 
Lyon, 2 (map), 181 

Macchiavelli, Niccolo, 224 
Macedonia, 45, 84 (map), 106-7 
Madrid, 2 (map), 162 
Maghrib, 180 

magistrate, 56, 72, 158 

see also kadi 

see districts 
Mahmud II (1808-39), 188 illus. 
Mahmud pasha, 65 
Majorca, 133, 161 

see taxes 
Malta, 9, 14, 146 (map), 149-51, 152, 

161, 165,216,217 
Mamluk Empire, 15, 67, 101, 141, 151, 

155, 163, 164, 173, 179 
manifest destiny, 227 

see also imperialism 
Manisa, 36 (map), 81, 147 (map), 179 
manumission, 68—9 

see also slavery 
Manzikert, battle of, 30 
Maplesden, Edward, 219-20 

see frontier 
marginality, 16 

Maritsa river, 102 (map), 131n.3 
markets, 70, 91, 121, 133, 135, 152-3, 
166, 172, 176-9, 181-2, 187-8, 193, 

see also commerce 
Marmara sea, 34, 35, 53 (map), 61, 85, 

147 (map) 
Marranos, 180-1, 181n.l4 

see also Sephardim 
marriage, 112, 121,208,212 

alliances and, 37, 63, 68, 97, 103, 

cross-cultural, 34, 39-40, 179, 228 

dynastic, 37-41, 42, 60-4, 155 
Marseilles, 2 (map), 16, 190, 198 
martyrdom, 180 
maskalim, 74 
masons, 90 
mastic, 152, 153 
Mattingly, Garrett, 185-6 
Maventi, Lui, 143 
Mazarin, Jules, 125 
Mecca, 99, 163, 174 illus. 
medicine, 180 
medieval, 7, 15, 52, 67 
Medina, 99, 163, 174 illus. 
Mediterranean, 85, 101, 146 (map) 

as a civilization, xiii, xiv, 6, 7, 12, 18, 54, 
58, 112, 133, 139, 173, 183-8, 210, 

divisions in, 15, 29, 81, 99, 110, 132, 
135, 137, 138-41, 142-4, 145-62, 



trade in, 9, 13, 16-17, 20, 57, 87, 
151-4, 176-9, 182, 193-4, 199, 201, 
223, 228-9, 232-4 

see schools 
Mehmed, 148 

Mehmed I (1413-21), 38, 39, 50, 65, 75 
Mehmed II (1444-6, 1451-81), 76, 93 

characteristics of, 1 4 illus. , 6 1 

conquests of, 13, 51-4, 59, 101, 103, 
107, 132, 138, 142, 152, 156, 172-3 

policies of, 16, 17, 50-1, 65, 70, 97, 
105, 157-8, 170-1, 174-7, 183 
Mehmed III (1595-1603), 124-5 
Mehmed IV (1648-87), 65, 217, 221 
Mehmed (Jelebi, Ebu al-Fazl, 96 
Mehmed of Birgi, 117 
Mehmed Pasha, Semin, 215 
Mehmed Pasha, SokoUu, 55, 56, 68, 96-7, 

103, 132, 156, 165-7, 167n.6, 190 
memoirs, xiv 

Mendes family, 181, 181n.l4 
Mente§e, 36 (map) 
Mentejeoglu, 11, 31, 34, 173 
mercantilism, 185, 218, 221 

see also economy 
mercenaries, 47, 67 

see also army 
merchants, 15-17, 19-20, 83-91, 123-4, 
125, 134, 134n.ll, 143, 161-4, 167, 
190-1, 193, 201-6, 207-8, 212-13, 

Armenian, 16, 85-7 

Greek, 17, 85 

Italian, 15, 172-3, 175, 176-9, 186-7 

Jewish, 16-17, 57, 87, 91, 131-3 

Muslim, 134-6 

see also commerce 
merit, 113 

Mesopotamia, 99, 208-9 
messianism, 119-20 
Messina, 146 (map), 148 
Mevlevis, 75 
Middle East, 15, 16, 29, 30-1, 61, 67, 91, 

107, 182,228,229,232-4 
middleman, 15, 19 

see also merchants 
migrations, 33, 45-6, 73-4, 85, 87, 1 1 1, 

153, 157-8, 179-81, 208, 221, 232-3 
millet, 112, 112n.l5, 171,206-7 

see also non-Muslims 
minarets, 122 illus. 
mining corps, 77 
minorities, xiv 

religious, 16-17 

see also specific religions 

mint, 93 

see clergy; proselytization 
modernity, 18, 233 

Modon, 141, 142, 143, 146 (map), 190 
Mohacs, 101, 102 (map) 
mohair, 134, 166 
Moldavia, 101-3, 102 (map) 
Moldova, 84 (map) 
Molucca islands, 233 
monasticism, 75, 207, 209 
money, 76, 81, 101, 113-15, 123, 
131, 133, 144, 152, 175, 177, 
178-9, 181, 191, 198,204, 
see also finances 
moneylending, 76-7, 135 

see also banking 
Mongols, 12,31,34,37,52 
monks, 169, 207 
monographs, xiii 

see Christianity; Islam; Judaism; 
Montague, Mary Wortley, 224 
monuments, 157 
Morea, 99, 102 (map), 143, 145, 146 

Mori, Zoan, 142 
Morosini, Marino, 173 
mosques, 54, 56, 70, 76, 93, 106, 117-19, 

126, 135, 172, \&& illus. 
mother, 23 

imperial, 38, 39-41, 61-4, 124-5, 

see also households 
mountain pass, 1 
Mu'awiyah, 13 
miifti, 70-2, 73, 76-7, 117-19, 124 

see also ulema 
Muhammed, 8, 12, 13, 45, 99, 117, 119, 

174 illus., 188 illus. 
multiculturalism, 120 

Murad I (1362-89), 27, 34, 38, 39-40, 41, 
45, 47-8, 61, 65, 67, 69, 77, 173, 
Murad II (1421-44, 1446-51), 38, 50-2, 

58n.l0, 65, 103 
Murad IV (1623-40), 89-90, 112, 

117-19, n& illus., 120 
murder, 72, 112 
Musa, 103 
museums, 157 
see firearms